Friday, November 23, 2012

Hie Jinja (Akasaka)                                                             C
Haiden of Hie Jinja
(photos courtesy of the shrine)
Date founded: Founded in 1478 by Ota Dokan (1432-86). Currentt buildings from 1958.
Address: 2-10-5 Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0014
Tel/Information: 03-3581-2471 Open 5am to 6pm.
How to get there: Take the Chiyoda Subway Line to Akasaka Station or Ginza Line or Marunouchi Line to Akasaka-mitsuke Station, then 8 minutes by foot. Also, take the Tameki-sanno Station on the Namboku and Ginza Lines and then 3 minutes by foot.
Enshrined kami: Oyamakui no kami (also known as Hie no kami and Sanno).
Prayers offered: Good childbirth, protection from harm (yakuyoke), good marriage and others.
Best times to go: When the cherry blossoms are in bloom in early April and for the Sanno Matsuri in June of even-number years.

Important physical features: Akasaka Hie Jinja traces its beginnings to the Kamakura Period (1185-1333) and a man named Edo (unrelated to the name of the town) who formerly owned the land were Edo Castle was later built. A Hie shrine was later built on the grounds of the first Edo castle around 1478 by Ota Dokan who originally built the castle in 1457. The Edo castle compound was later taken over by Tokugawa Ieyasu who rebuilt it. This became the sight of the Imperial Palace when the fourteen-year old Emperor Meiji moved from Kyoto to the newly named Tokyo in 1869. The Ota clan claimed descent from Minamoto Yorimasa and were daimyo aligned with the Ogigayatsu branch of the powerful Uesugi clan, for who the Edo Castle was originally built. It was often the case that when a castle was built, a shrine was built or an existing shrine designated as its guardian shrine. It seems that Ota built both a Tenmangu shrine and a Hie shrine on the castle grounds. Both were later moved with Hie moving slightly southwest of the castle in 1607, ostensibly to allow average citizens to worship there. It burnt down in the Great Meireki fire of 1657 and was located on it’s present spot in 1659, when it was rebuilt at the behest of Tokugawa Ietsuna. The present shrine was rebuilt in 1958 after being destroyed in WWII.
The choice to create a bunrei of Hie—divided from the spirit dwelling in Sannomiya in Kawagoe—meant that this was a shrine in the shinbutsu shugo tradition of Ryobu Shinto established by the Tendai Buddhist sect of Mt. Hiei near Kyoto. Whether or not the original building was in the Hie style is not known but the shrine rebuilt in 1678 was a gongen-zukuri style. Currently the shrine is a variation of the gongen-zukuri style favored by the Tokugawa. The honden is quite small compared to its massive haiden/heiden. The honden has chigi and katsuogi and the entire roof of both buildings is clad in copper sheet. The roof of the haiden is truly impressive in scale, gained by the layering effect of sub-roofs and building wings. There is a very large chidorihafu on the front side but the ridgepole is higher than that of the building. This gives the impression that the building is oriented with the roof ridge running front to back. Two wings with slightly lower ridgepoles extend from the right and left sides of the building. There is a long step canopy in front with a karahafu. A copper clad kairou extends from the right and left and wraps around to form an inner courtyard. There is a 3-bay roumon gate at the center of this, with zuijin guardian figures in the outer bays. This is also of an unusual design with a single level, gable roof with chidorihafu and the kairou creates an additional covered opening to each side of the gate, giving it the impression of being 5-bays wide. A flight of stone steps leads to this gate, at the base of which is the distinctive Sanno torii. The zuijin figures—normally seated, male warriors with bow and arrows, are portrayed here as monkeys—the familiar of Sanno. The entire compound is actually on a small hill and the entire grounds are sloped and stepped. The grounds are surrounded at the base by a stone wall which helps to clearly separate it from the urban thoroughfares that squeeze in around it. There are entrances to the grounds on east (main) south and west (back) sides of the shrine. All have large Sanno torii, distinguished by a roof-like structure above the upper lintel. The south entrance is the newest, sporting a huge torii and a staircase that connects to a bridge over one of the surrounding streets. There are a number of smaller staircases also leading from street level up to the shrine grounds. Interestingly, the west or rear entrance takes you up a steep stair through a “tunnel” of red torii, to a small Inari shrine on the grounds. I say interestingly because it is probably the most photographed spot and many therefore mistakenly take this as the main image of the shrine. The grounds are a small tree-covered oasis, raised above the cold urban surrounding.

Important spiritual features: The kami enshrined at Akasaka Hie is Oyamakui no kami of the Susano-o lineage. The kami is mentioned in the Kojiki as being enshrined at Hiyoshi Taisha (Hie Jinja) on Mt. Hiei, and came to form part of a complex Shinto-Buddhist theology developed by the Tendai monks of Enrakuji. This essentially Buddhist form of Shinto came to be known as Sanno Shinto. The kami was amalgamated with the mountain kami of Hiei and is often represented as a monkey. I go into detail on this belief in the entry for Hiyoshi Taisha in "Shinto Shrines: A Guide to the Sacred Sites of Japan's Ancient Religion." However most strains of Buddhism have now been stripped away other than the influences on the building style, the unusual torii, the statue of “Sanno the Mountain King,” and the name of the shrine’s famous festival the Sanno matsuri.

Description: As the former guardian shrine of Edo Castle, Hie Jinja has a deep connection with the city of Tokyo. Today it is tucked away on a small hill in the midst of the Akasaka district. It sits a short distance behind the National Diet Building, the seat of the Japanese government. It is the home of one of the “Big Three” Tokyo matsuri, which include the Sanja matsuri, and the Kanda matsuri (actually big four if one includes the Fukagawa Festival of Tomioka Hachimangu). Many prints from the Edo period depict the Sanno matsuri and it’s tall floats, topped by various historic and mythical figures. These large festivals—originally inspired by the Gion matsuri of Yasaka Jinja in Kyoto—were known as Tenka matsuri and spread to outlying cities where the tradition is continued in the Kawagoe matsuri, Sawara matsuri, Ome Taisai and many others in the Kanto area. However the forty-five tall floats of Hie were abandoned, apparently due to the construction of overpasses in Tokyo from the Meiji Era on. Today, though sporting only the shrine's mikoshi, the festival still attracts huge crowds. Though the festival is actually held every year, the larger procession of about 500 people, called the Jinkosai, is held in even number years only, alternating with the Kanda matsuri.

Reisai (main festival) of Hie Jinja
Festivals: Sanno Matsuri, 15 June in even number years. A procession of 500 people with the mikoshi of Akasaka Hie Jinja, leave the shrine at 8am and parade around the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Station and other landmark sites, before returning to the shrine at 5pm. The chief priest also enters the Imperial Palace grounds to pray for the well being of the Imperial family, the only shrine permitted this privilege since the Edo era when the shogun still occupied the grounds.

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