New York, N.Y. xxx

Originally published as Vol. 47 in Weekly Biz, Month xx, 201_; translated by Jim Luce.

Tenkawa Shrine and World Religious Conference (2)

The Tennkawa shrine was established in the Hakuho period created by Emperor Temmu.

Below is a story from Mr. Mikinosuke Kakisaka of Tenkawa Shrine, head abbot.

(About 2,700 years ago, the first emperor, Jimmu pray in front of the rock ‘Kannabi” at Tennkawa’s “Manai” and made an offering of sound of spirit “Hinomoto” HI “sound 

“About 2700 years ago the Emperor Jinmu (Jinmu), the first emperor, prayed for the Banza (Iwakura, the sacred rock) of God Nana (Kannabe) called Tanhei (Tama). Hinomoto was said to have been offered. The sound of Hi is a soul, and Moto is the roots, or beginning. These sounds, each of them have a deep meaning in Japan’s history.

About 1400 years ago a lady (Hanafaku = Hina Hanabi) gives birth to a Boy (Enno gyoujya) and named, Kiyoka, When she prayed at the Tenkawa altar, she was given a mirror, and shen gave it to Wakaro.   This Ennogyoujya trained vigorously in the mountains ranging from Kumano to Yoshino, and received and gained benefits of impression of Nature, the universal energies of morning till evening. He established the Shugenndo (Mountain Buddhism). The Goddess Sarasvati appeared in front of him. He received the blessing of, and worshiped by Benzaiten (Sarasvati) at the summit of Mt. Misenn(1895 meters). He then later placed Benzaiten to Tankawa Shrine.Tenkawa Shrine was a shrine that continued from the Hakuho era, Emperor Tenmu was a founder. And there is Okumiya of Tenkawa Shrine on the top of Mt. Misen.

 During the period of Northern and Southern Dynasties in Japan history, it was an important place. Where the Imperial Palace of the South Dynasty was there. This period is the era of North and South: the era when one Emperor was in the North of Kyoto and the other, South of the Nara (Yamato) respectively and each had emperors This era of North and South emperors lasted about 56 years.  Later South and North reconciled and became back to a single emperor. Even today, inside the site of Tenkawa Shrine, just behind the shrine, there is a site of the South Kuroki Imperial Palace and Emperor Godaigo and other four southern emperor’s belongings are preserved. Another important fact about Tenkawa is that Tenkawa Shrine is the birthplace of Noh Theater, Japan’s National Traditional Theater.

Tenkawa shrine is Very important shrine in history of Japan

Tenkawa Shrine is very important in Japan’s history. And it was the place, where many great men like Kobo Daishi-Koukai, and Shinran trained. In the past, there were over 20,000 shrines of Tennkawa Shrine across the country. In 1984 the Kakisaka Guuji launched the renovation of Shrine based on the Emperor Tenmu’s original architectural plan: duplicated when Emperor Tenmu had builded the shrine. As the Shrine had been very badly damaged during the years. The newly renovated Shrine was completed in 1989 (First year of Heisei) year, and the festival was carried out. The entire shrine and the stage of Noh Theater became totally rebuild to beautiful and and magnificent. Now a days the entire mountain area of OOminesann as a whole is designated as World Heritage Site.

In Parliament of World Religion conference, I decided to talk about Shinto in a dialogue format in with vice chairman of the New York Buddhist Federation (former chairperson), Yukimi Nakagaki (the priest of New York Jyoudoshinnshuu Buddhist Association). I went to Tennkawa to consult with Mr. Kakisaka. It was a time of big festival in July, “Great Festival”, but I had time only for this time due to the birthday celebration of Dalai Lama and the earthquake support and the orphanage support trip to Indonesia. When I arrived at the shrine, it was in the middle of a week- long festival. Especially this year was the year of 30 years from the renovation was completed. So there was magnificent events one after another to celebrate “the 30th anniversary memorial festival”, a special viewing and opening of the Benzaiten statue and a shrine visit to the main shrine were also held.

Shinto culture rooted in life

In Japan, Ceremonies are held everywhere throughout the year in Shinto shrines throughout Japan. New Year’s events, Setsubun, festivals to welcome spring, May is a rice planting shrine, and the festival celebrating Dan’s festival will be held in mid-June, the 5th day of the lunar calendar. Tanabata in the summer, harvesting in the autumn and the Moon Festival, November in the New Festival, the year-end is a year-round event. Etc. etc. When I see the festival calendar, I feel just about any familiar events are rooted in our lives, and how things that I think as their culture come from Shinto culture. Culture is like this way and it becomes rooted in people’s lives. The Japanese like festivals. And we all Japanese visit the shrine several times a year. For business prosperity, worshiping prayers, someone’s health issues, passing exams, Love and marrages, celebrations of children’s growth: Shichigosan, etc.

In Tenkawa, The festival on July 17th is the largest of all the year-round festivals. It was an amazing coincident that day was just the release date of the co-authored book “Temple of the Great Treasure Tenkawa; Future of the Universe co-authored by Dr. Kamata Daisuke and Mr. Kakisaka. As I looked at it, this book was a book written about Tenkawa Shrine as a major base for Shinbutsu Shuugou. (Let’s explain in the next issue), so it was surprising! It is exactly the theme of my story at “World Religious Conference”. And this time, Mr. Kamata   told me that already he wrote in English the book called “Country where Kami and Buddha meet” and it was already published. Surprised again!!, feeling the fate of yself again here.

See: Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura Column in Japan’s Weekly Biz



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