Friday, November 23, 2012

Hokkaido Jingu                                                               UC                          
Hokkaido Jingu
(photos courtesy of the shrine)
Date founded: Founded in 1869 as Sapporo Jinja, by an order of the Emperor Meiji. Current buildings from 1978.
Address: 474 Miyagaoka, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-shi Hokkaido 064-0505
Tel/Information: 011-611-0261 Pamphlet in English available at no charge.
How to get there: Take the Tozai Subway line to Maruyama Koen Station, then 15 minutes by foot.  Alternatively, 15 minutes by taxi from JR Sapporo Station.
Enshrined kami: Okunitama no kami, Onamuchi no kami, Sukunahikona no kami and the Emperor Meiji
Prayers offered: Household safety, safety on the roads, protection against harm and opening up the way to good luck.
Best times to go: In early to mid April when 1200 cherry trees are in blossom.

Important physical features: Hokkaido Jingu is located slightly west of the center of Sapporo, and basically within Maruyama Park. This 25 acre park includes a 700 foot hill, and virgin wood featuring giant Elm and cypress trees. It is also home to about 2700 cherry tree and numerous species of birds. The shrine itself is constructed in a modern shinmei zukuri style similar to Miyazaki Jingu and Atsuta Jingu, with unpainted wood, a copper sheet roof shaped in imitation of a thatched roof, many chigi and katsuogi and a very large haiden. The long straight sando and the shrine itself, unusually face northeast. Present buildings date from 1978 after the previous ones were destroyed by fire in 1974.

Important spiritual features: Hokkaido Jingu was originally called Sapporo Jinja and enshrined three deities considered deities of land reclamation. Okuniama, Onamuchi and Sukunahikona are referred to as the kaitaku sanshin (sanjin), and these same three kami were enshrined in shrines in Taiwan and other countries. Originally these deities are related to Susano-o and Izumo. However in the Meiji period, they came to represent an imagined pure and ancient form of Shinto, which the Meiji government was eager to promote. Though originally founded in 1869, the shrine was first built in Sapporo in 1871. In 1964, the spirit of Emperor Meiji was also enshrined and the name was changed to Hokkaido Jingu. The appellation "jingu" is considered by many only to apply to Ise—which is called simply "Jingu". But the Meiji government, anxious to promote a nationwide shrine system with Ise Jingu at the head, and the emperor at the head of all, gave this designation to a number of shrines during the late 1800's. Most, some as Miyazaki Jingu and Atsuta Jingu, had ancient links to the imperial myths of the Kojiki and Nihon shoki. Others, such as Heian Jingu and Meiji Jingu (created in the Taisho Era), did not. This highest designation of kanpei taisha came to encompass sixty seven shrines. Ise stood above and apart from this ranking.

Hokkaido Jingu in the snow
Description: Hokkaido is the newest of Japan’s main islands in terms of its history as a part of the country. In ancient times, numerous expeditions are recorded to the north east as far as the upper reaches of Honshu now known as Tohoku. The various purposes of these expeditions includes increasing the territory under Yamato control and suppressing a people recorded only as emishi. It is probable that these people were actually native Japanese of the jomon era who were increasingly encroached upon by the yayoi immigrants who altered the character of the people and country from about A.D. 200 or earlier. It is likely that they are the ancestors of the Ainu who still inhabit Hokkaido and northern Japan. The island was largely ignored for most of the country’s history, except as an outpost of trade with the northern tribes and later with Russia. This continued until the late-eighteenth century when the increasing fear of encroachment by foreign powers brought a new awareness of nation building to Japan. The Bakufu had already taken over parts of Western Ezo (as Hokkaido was known) in 1798 and Russia launched some raids in 1806. In the 1830’s, the daimyo of the Mita domain asked the Tokugawa to allow him to take over Hokkaido, and begin building defenses against foreign attack (he was denied). After the coming of Admiral Perry in 1853, the Bakfu began to loose control and a coup of sorts by some of the Kyushu and Shikoku domains, moved to restore the Emperor and create a new form of government. When the Tokugawa forces fought a last stand to retain power, they were defeated within a year in what is known as the Boshin War of 1868-69. After a final battle in Tokyo’s Ueno district, Admiral Enomoto Takeaki fled to Ezo with several thousand men, and declared the founding of the Republic of Ezo in Hakodate in December 1868. A government was hastily established and recognized by the French and British. The government occupied the pentagon-shaped compound built by the next-to-last Tokugawa shogun Iemochi. In April 1869 a Japanese force attacked and swiftly ended he short-lived experiment, with Enomoto’s surrender in May 1869. In August of the same year, the island was renamed Hokkaido, with Sapporo as its capital and Hokkaido Jinja was built in 1871. From that time it has been the main shrine of Hokkaido though not its oldest. Today, about 800,000 people visit the shrine during the New Year.

Festivals: Sapporo Festival, 14 to 16 June. The main festival of the shrine, and one of the largest in Hokkaido. Four mikoshi are on parade and events include kagura, Noh, gagaku, a demonstration of martial arts, and others.

Sapporo Snow Festival, 5 to 11 February. Though neither a festival of Hokkaido Jingu, nor even a Shinto festival, this is the biggest event in Hokkaido, with around 400 giant ice sculptures attracting competitors and visitors from all over the world.

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