Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Part of the fascination for me in visiting shrines around Japan is to discover the differences and varieties. Architecture, layout, styles of shimenawa and statuary all vary by region, and the first thing I noticed about the larger shrines in southern Okayama is that they all have covered entranceways.
Soja shrine in Soja City gave its name to the town. "Soja" roughly translated means "all the kami shrines", and when the shrine was founded towards the end of the Heian Period the town changed its name from Hachiba to Soja.
Enshrined here are 324 kami!!!! Apparently the local bigwig found it rather tiresome to have to travel around and visit all the shrines in his jurisdiction every year so he gathered them all together in one place, hence the name Soja Shrine.
The two main kami enshrined here are Onamuchi, which is one of names Okuninushi goes by, and one of his wives, Suserihime, a daughter of Susano.
This area of Okayama, formerly the province of Bitchu, still continues a tradition of kagura, so in front of the main shrine were a lot of fine, wooden masks. The mask in the middle with the snot pouring from his nose is apparently Inasehagi!
A very partial list of some of the other 324 kami enshrined here is
Gion Sha (Susano and family)
The entrance to the shrine is right next to the Soja Local History Museum, not far from Soja Station. Soja is a good place to start or end a trip on the Kibi Bike Path.