Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tenjin Shrine, Bando

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This small shrine is located by the side of the road leading to Oasahiko Shrine in Tokushima. It is a massha of Oasahiko shrine. Massha and Sessha are small subsidiary shrines usually located in the grounds of a larger shrine. The distinction between a massha and sesha is blurry, but usually a sessha will have a kami that has a relationship to the main god of the main shrine, and a massha will have a kami unrelated to the main kami.

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The sign says it enshrines the kami of scholarship and learning which is now generally considered to be Tenjin, the name given to the enshrined spirit of Sugawara Michizane. Shortly after his death there were plagues and his angry ghost was deemed responsible for them, and it was not until much later that he became associated with learning and scholarship.

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Angry ghosts that caused plagues and other misfortunes were a major concern of religions and rituals in ancient Japan, both "shinto" and buddhist. The Gion matsuri being another fasmous example.

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