Monday, August 6, 2012

Oharano Jinja                                                                             C
Kasuga-style honden of Oharano Jinja
The four Kasuga-style honden of Oharano Jinja
(photo courtesy of the shrine)
Date Founded: 784 in the old capital of Nagaoka-kyo. First shrine buildings built in 850 at the behest of Emperor Montoku (r. 850-58). Present buildings from 1648.
Address: 1152 Minami Kasuga-cho Oharano Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto 610-1153 
Tel/Information: 075-331-0014
How to get there: From Hankyu Katsura station take the Keihan bus to Minami Kasuga-cho bus stop then 8 minutes on foot. Or take the JR Line to JR Mukomachi Station then by bus to Minami Kasuga-cho bus stop. There are very few busses per day so call ahead to check the schedule.  Not on the typical tourist route.
Enshrined kami: Ame no Koyane no mikoto and his consort Himegami, Takemikazuchi no mikoto, and Futsunushi no mikoto. All of these kami were invited to descend from Kasuga Taisha in Nara.
Prayers offered: Pray for a good love match, a good marriage, and for protection against bad luck.
Best time to go: From mid-November is a good time to view the autumn color of the Japanese maples.

Oharano Jinja
The second torii of Oharano Jinja
(this and following photos by Joseph Cali)
Important physical features: Oharano Jinja sits on the far western side of Kyoto. In 784, when the shrine was founded, this was not the old capital of Heian-kyo (which became modern day Kyoto), but the short-lived capital of Nagaoka-kyo. It was the capital for a mere ten years before Emperor Kanmu decided to build a new city from which to rule. It had once been the practice to move capitals when the Emperor died. This was based on the strong Shinto fear of pollution from death and the general fear of spirits of the dead haunting the palace where they died. These fears gradually gave way to the desire to imitate the Chinese and their grand cities, but this could only be achieved by staying in one place for a longer time. Eight successive Emperors occupied the former capital of Nara, though even this amounted to a surprisingly short seventy-four years. Emperor Kanmu wanted to leave Nara for a number of political reasons. He feared a conspiracy by rivals or by the Buddhist clergy who had become a force to be reckoned with. Nagaoka-kyo was deemed a suitable location but the city was beset by natural disasters, such as flooding. In 785, the principle architect of the city, Fujiwara no Tanetsugu, was assassinated—possibly by a member of the rival Tachibana clan. Kanmu abruptly decided to move the capital further to the northeast where, in 794, he founded Heian-kyo. In the meantime, the Empress (Fujiwara no Otomuro; a descendent of the powerful northern house of the Fujiwara), invited the gods of her ancestors to descend on Oharano from Kasuga in the former capital at Nara. But it took another sixty years, during the reign of Emperor Montoku (who’s mother was Fujiwara no Junshi and who’s wife was Fujiwara no Akirakeiko) for Oharano to be built in the style of Kasuga Taisha, with almost identical 1-bay honden for each of the four kami enshrined. These structures were rebuilt in 2008 but are true to their former style, which in turn is true (with some minor differences) to the style of Kasuga Taisha. (Please see the entry for Kasuga Taisha in "Shinto Shrines: A Guide to the Sacred Sites of Japan's Ancient Religion" for details).

Koisawa no ike of Oharano Jinja
Koisawa no ike
            Of the 20 acres of land that comprise the shrine grounds, about 16 acres are forested. Even then, only a small percentage of the cedar bark used to repair the shrine came from these forests. (Cedar bark can only be striped from a tree once in ten years.) This was once the hunting reserve of Emperor Kanmu and it is said that he loved the area. The shrine is mentioned in the Genji Monogatari (early 11th century) and Ise Monogatari (9th century) and many other stories and poems, and it was one of the nijunisha that received offerings from the imperial court. There is a natural spring on the grounds called Segai no Shimizu, of which numerous poems have also been written. Though quite impossible to see any likeness today, a pond called Koisawa no ike made by Montoku, is modeled on Sarusawa no ike in Nara (as is a third, smaller one near the more well-known Fujiwara family shrine—Yoshida Jinja—in Kyoto).

Important spiritual features: The kami of Oharano Jinja were prayed to by many empresses and imperial ladies from the time of its founding. This may have been in part because most of the wives and mothers of the Emperors, from the late-Nara period through the Heian period, were from the Fujiwara clan. Although few ancient records exist from this shrine, it is known that Fujiwara no Yoshifusa (804-72), the first Chancellor (daijo daijin) appointed since the priest Dokyo (who famously tried to usurp the position of emperor) ninety years prior, created the post of Saijo. Known as the Kasuga Saiin this high priestess was selected from among Fujiwara daughters and was in charge of affairs at the Kasuga and Oharano shrines for a brief time. Though just a pale imitation of the Saiku of Ise and the Saiin of Kamigamo, it reflects the power and prestige of the Fujiwara and their ancestral deities that each of their family shrines (Kasuga, Oharano and Yoshida) were in the elite group of twenty two shrines receiving offerings from the court. (Please see the entry for Kasuga Taisha in "Shinto Shrines; A Guide to the Sacred Sites of Japan's Ancient Religion" for details).

Oharano Jinja
Oharano Jinja
Description: The first stone torii of Oharano stands alongside the winding road that passes by the shrine. A slowly inclining stone stair leads to the second torii at its top. From the moment you pass under the first torii, you are enveloped in a canopy of about 20 acres of lush greenery—a hallmark of Oharano Jinja. The arrow-straight sando leads through a thick growth of maple trees that leads to a clearing with Sarusawa no ike pond to the right and Segai no Shimizu spring to the left. The brilliant green of the maples in spring and summer is followed by their turn to brilliant reds and yellows in fall. Continuing down the sando leads to the third (this one red) torii and the beginning of the inner grounds. Just before coming to the torii there stands a hand-washing basin (teimizuya) with a sculptured deer as a waterspout. The deer is a familiar of the kami and amply represented at all Fujiwara shrines (most famously in Nara where deer roam freely among the tourists in Nara Park. At Oharano, deer also occupy the place to the right and left front of the shrine usually occupied by lion or fox sculptures. They sit atop the flight of stairs that leads to the chumon gate in front of the honden. There is neither a haiden nor a kaguraden—only a modest shrine surrounded by a magnificent forest. This is, I suppose, appropriate for a shrine that existed in a capital that really never was. Nagaoka-kyo was essentially an aborted attempt by Emperor Kanmu to escape from the intrigues of Nara. But Nagaoka-kyo proved no better when its administrator Fujiwara no Tanetsugu was assassinated. The Emperor’s brother Prince Sawara was implicated and Kanmu exiled him to Awaji but he died ( or was assassinated) en route. A series of disasters that followed were blamed on the angry spirit of Sawara, who became one of the famous goryo (angry spirits) of the Heian era. Kanmu abandoned the short-lived capital and established a new one at Heian-kyo. But Oharano Jinja remained an ancestral shrine of the Fujiwara.
The Fujiwara clan was established when Emperor Tenji gave the name to Nakatomi no Kamatari who was instrumental in overthrowing the powerful Soga clan and establishing the Taika Reform in 646. The Nakatomi were an ancient and powerful clan in charge of kami ritual and purification ceremonies. It is thought hey were originally from the eastern province of Hitachi (present day Ibaragi) and their chief ancestral shrine was Kashima Jingu. The Nakatomi traced their ancestry to Amenokoyane no mikoto who performed norito (prayers) in front of the Heavenly Rock Cave in one of the central myths of Imperial Shinto mythology. This kami descended with the heavenly grandchild Ninigi and his ancestors were charged with protecting the divine mirror of Amaterasu, performing rituals, and reading norito for the divine protection of theYamato state. Along with the Mononobe they opposed the introduction of Buddhism to the country but were defeated by the Soga who, along with Prince Shotoku Taishi (573-621), established Buddhism as a national religion alongside worship of the kami. As the Soga wiped out the Mononobe, so the Nakatomi destroyed the Soga, leaving no rivals in their drive to power. One of Kamatari’s sons Fuhito established a new dynasty when he managed to have one of his daughters Miyako married to Emperor Mommu (r. 697-707) and their son Obito elevated to become Emperor Shomu (r. 724-49). This was the first time the child of a non-imperial line became emperor. It also established the Fujiwara as regents for underage emperors who continued to be the children of Fujiwara mothers, which lead to their having a lock on the office of Kampaku, chief advisor to the Emperor. In this way the Fujiwara became the clan supplying wives and mothers to the emperors and the real power behind the throne from about the 8th to the 11th centuries.

Festivals: Reisai (Oharano-sai), 8 April. The main festival of the shrine with a procession of the shrine’s mikoshi.

Mitakeri-sai, the second Sunday of September. A festival begun in the Edo period and featuring kami zumo.

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