The first shrine building to be built here was probably built around the latter part of the seventh Century. For a brief period the “ emperor” known as Tenji moved his court from the Yamato Plain to Otsu a few miles south of Hie, and he brought with him and enshrined in what is now the western compound of Hiyoshi Taisha the kami of Miwa, Onamuchi, the Yamato aspect of Okuninushi. So both of the first kami enshrined here trace their roots to Izumo.
The Mikoshi of Hie are quite famous, and a special storeroom/museum exists to display examples of older ones. Enryaku-ji had become a powerful economic and political force by the 12th Century, and the monks used the mikoshi to “attack” Kyoto to coerce the government to accede to demands. The mikoshi were taken up and over Hiezan and the monks marched on Kyoto and left the mikoshi at various points around the city. Kami were feared as well as revered, and fear of the anger of the kami in the mikoshi put pressure on the government.
Under the control of the Tendai monastery Enryaku-ji there developed the cult of Sanno at Hie. Known as the Mountain King, developed from the center of Tendai in China, the messenger of Sanno is the monkey.
In all a total of 108 upper and 108 lower shrines were constructed here. 108 is a significant number in Buddhism. many of the shrines have long gone, but many remain. Some of the shrines are Usa, enshrining hachiman, Shirayama, enshrining Izanagi and Izanami, Otoshi, the father of Oyamakui, the shrines main kami , and a Suga, enshrining Susano, Oyamakuis grandfather.
The frounds of Hiyoshi are very large and many visitors come for the Fall foliage. There is even a restaurant and tea room within the forest.
Hiyoshi has a unique torii. Often referred to as symbolizing the mountain, the triangle actually symbolizes the unity of buddhas and kami. It was removed in 1869 with shinbutsubunri, but reinstated after WWII.