Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Shizuoka Sengen Jinja                                                       UC
The combined haiden of Sengen (Asama) and Kanbe Jinja (all photos, Joseph Cali)
Date founded: This shrine complex consists of three shrines, two of which are under the same roof. Kanbe Jinja was founded during the reign of Emperor Sujin (r. 97-30B.C.) according to shrine tradition. Asama Jinja (Sengen) was founded in 901 as a divided spirit of Fujisan Hongu Jinja. The third shrine, Otoshimioya Jinja was founded during the reign of Emperor Ojin (r. 270-310) according to shrine tradition.
Address: 102-1 Miyagasaki-cho, Aoi-ku, Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka 420-0868
Tel/Information: 054-245-1820.
How to get there: JR Shinkansen or local line to Shizuoka Station, then by Shizutetsu Bus to the Akatorii bus stop.
Enshrined kami: Onamuchi no mikoto (Kanbe Jinja), Konohanasakuyahime no mikoto (Asama Jinja), Otoshimioya no mikoto (Otoshimioya Jinja).
Prayers offered: Successful childbirth (Asama Jinja), long life and good marriage (Kanbe Jinja).  
Best time to go: Himachi Festival, 25 September. About 500 hand painted paper lanterns are displayed.

While you're here, any readers who are interested in having a kamidana of their own, or would like to send one to a friend or family member, please check out this post:
Important physical features: In Shinto Shrines: A Guide to the Sacred Sites of Japan's Ancient Religion, I have listed this shrine as a sub-entry under Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha, considered the main shrine for Asama (Mt. Fuji) worship. However, in terms of physical properties (other than Fujisan itself) Shizoka Sengen Jinja is at least as magnificent if not more so. For this reason I have recently visited the shrine and decided to go into greater detail on this blog.
           For a person like myself, an artist and designer, Shizuoka Sengen Jinja provides much that is of purely visual interest.Situated on a finger of stone and woods that extends from Mt. Ryuso into the heart of Shizuoka City, Sengen Jinja is actually the name for a group of shrines. Shizuoka was the the nineteenth stop on the old Tokaido rode linking Edo and Kyoto. It was also the home of retired Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu who rebuilt the shrine and resided at nearby Sunpu Castle after 1605. Unfortunately, only the castle grounds still exist, but it was a prosperous and popular city and well endowed by the Tokugawa family. Ieyasu, who had his coming of age ceremony at this shrine in 1555, was himself first laid to rest at nearby Kunozan Toshogu before being relocated to Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture. I detail the magnificent Kunozan Toshogu in my book and also have a Photo Tour elsewhere on this blog. That shrine has undergone major renovation as of 2013 so the paintwork is in splendid condition. There is no question that the exterior of the main shrine of Shizuoka Sengen is in need of repainting, which is a major undertaking that will no doubt occur at sometime in the future, nevertheless both the painted and sculptural detailing of the shrines, along with the splendid view of Mt. Fuji and the city itself as well as the sixth-century Shizuhatayama Kofun are all well worth seeing.
Roumon of Shizuoka Sengen
           In fact, the shrine grounds contain some twenty-six Important Cultural Properties of the country and the prefecture—an enormous number matched by few other shrines in Japan. Of these, what must be considered the main shrine in terms of size and status is the combined Kanbe and Asama Jinja. While there are many entrances to the shrine grounds, the one at the end of Hase Dori leads under a stone torii, a gate (which may have once held nio), and a large roumon with zuijin figures from 1816. This gate is interesting for its dragon carvings and its interesting agyo and ungyo rikishi sitting on or suppressing the shishibana.The black plaque in the photo contains the names of Sengen and Kanbe shrines. Passing through the roumon leads to a large buden from 1816 which sits in the center of a square formed by the covered walkway (kairo) that connects the roumon in the front to the haiden in the back. Only the honden is outside of this. This buden is one of the only unpainted structures here though the remains of color on the zoubana indicate that at least parts may have been painted at one time. Extensive carvings in the ranma are by the Tachikawa-ryu as are most of the carvings here (though a volunteer guide I met at the shrine mentioned that the dragon on the roumon was carved by the legendary Hidari Jingoro (1596-1644?)—although it would have had to been salvaged from the original gate which burnt down in 1804).
           The next structure, the haiden, has several distinguishing features. First, one notices that there are two staircases and two entrances, one for the worship of each kami. The other thing is the second story structure, found only on this shrine and Fujisan Hongu. That distinction earns for these two shrines the nomenclature sengenzukuri. The second level (pictured above) is built like a smaller shrine however, unlike Fujisan Hongu, there are no chigi or katsuogi and the illusion of a small shrine is less strong. Nevertheless the irimoya-style roof, balcony and railing give the impression of a complete building sitting on top of the first floor. I am told that, like Fujisan Hongu, this room is not used and that to do so would place a worshiper above the level of the honden where the kami resides. If the combined height is in fact twenty-five meters (about eighty-two feet) as is stated, that would make it taller than Izumo Taisha which is often claimed to be the tallest shrine (at almost eighty feet—twenty-four meters) in Japan. Regardless, this beautiful building from around 1814 reflects the tastes and lavish support that the shrine was given by its powerful Tokugawa patrons. The interior ceiling features a dragon painting by Kanno Horinobu.
Left: The rear of the haiden (left) courtyard and honden.  Right: Honden
           The shrine is encompassed by a kairo that begins at the roumon and ends at the haiden forming a courtyard. Completing this shrine is the detached honden which also has two staircases (Asama Jinja to the left), plus a third for the priests, and is built on a raised level about eight meters high, surrounded by a low fence with kawara roof, and two entrance gates topped by karahafu roofs. The entrance is on the eave side of a simple gabled roof. The construction of the honden above an earth and stone platform is reminiscent of such shrines as Yoshino Mikumari Jinja

Left: Torii and zuijinmon of Otoshimioya Jinja   Right: Map of the shrine grounds showing the round kofun.
Yachihoko Jinja with beginning of staircase on the left.
           The other main shrine here is Otoshimioya Jinja which has a completely different entrance and faces south where Asama and Kanbe face east. The entrance is at the end of Sengen Dori and starts with a large red torii at the beginning of the shopping street at the Nakacho intersection of the road that comes directly from Shizuoka Station and passes by the south side of Sunpu Castle. After passing the second red torii, you immediately enter through a zuijinmon and the haiden of the shrine stands about three meters from that. It is immediately apparent that this haiden is more simply appointed than the other buildings on the grounds. The copper roof with karahafu is not the classic dobuki-ita of most Tokugawa sponsored shrines but a simple copper shingle, and the elaborate carvings are missing. The honden is however built much like Asama and Kanbe—detached from the haiden and raised on an earth and stone platform. It is a small building (3x2 bays) in a nagare-zukuri style. The honden does feature a dobuki-ita roof and polychromed carvings without chigi or katsuogi. The shrine dates from the same early nineteenth-century period after a fire destroyed the previous structures in 1804. It is built in a direct line and sitting directly below the sixth-century Shizuhatayama Kofun which can be seen (but not entered) by walking up the left side of the shrine.
Shizuhatayama Kofun
(Kofun photos courtesy of M. Kawaguchi)

Large cutaway mockup
The kofun is a thirty-two meter mound of about seven meters height with a large stone sarcophagus inside. First excavated in 1949, the bones and and most valuable goods were long gone by then but the remaining weapons, armor, and other metal work and pottery marks it as that of an influential family of the sixth or early seventh century. Some of these can be seen at the shrine's museum.

Right side of the shrine
Walking to the right of Otoshimioya you come to a long staircase leading up the mountain. To the right of this is Yachihoko Jinja, elaborately carved, painted and gilded. The roof is irimoya-zukuri with chidorihafu and karahafu all in dobuki-ita (also called dogawarabuki). These features, and a primarily black lacquer exterior were favorite features of Tokugawa-sponsored shrine construction. This shrine as well as most of the others on these grounds are the work of the Tachikawa-ryu family of shrine carpenters who were renown also for their carving abilities. Their magnificent works include Nikko Toshogu in Tochigi and Suwa Taisha in Nagano. They were active from 1774 to the beginning of the Meiji period. This building is a honden only with no haiden. the carving here includes the "The 24 Paragons of Filial Piety" a Confucian text from the thirteenth century that was a favorite of Tokugawa Japan. these scenes are depicted in the kaerumata (frog-leg struts) that encircle the building.
Hayama Jinja haiden with zuijin figure
Side view of the honden.
           Climbing those long stairs and then another shorter climb to the right brings you to Hayama Jinja, another magnificent example of decorative shrine architecture in the Buddhist-Shinto combinatory mold. The most unusual feature of this shrine is that the zuijin guardian figures, usually reserved for entrance gates (mon) are here placed directly on the portico of the haiden. This is a highly unusual feature and no other shrine comes to mind that matches it though there are a number of shrines that have komainu sitting on the portico (I would be interested if any readers could site another example). The haiden is decorated and polychromed above the nuki but otherwise simple in appearance. As with most of the shrines on this site, the haiden and honden are separated which is a little unusual for shrines of this period which were built by the Tokugawa. Most such shrines were of the gongen-zukuri type with the haiden and honden attached by an intermediary heiden. The honden is a nagare-zukuri, 3 x 2 bay type painted primarily in black, with elaborate carving and polychrome. Passing beyond the shrine and a bit more climbing brings you to a wonderful view of Mt. Fuji and the city of Shizuoka stretching out to the sea. This view reminds us of why the shrine exists; to venerate the kami of the mountain.
Mt. Fuji and Shizuoka City with the ocean in the far distance.
Finally is Sukunahikona Jinja located back down the hill to the right side of the main shrine. This is also a honden-only shrine of 3x2 bays, primarily in black lacquer, with extensive polychroming and carving above the nuki. The theme here is the twelve signs of the Chinese/Japanese zodiac.

Sukunahikona Jinja (right side)
Important spiritual features: It is not unusual for more than one shrine to exist on the same grounds. There are generally several reasons offered for this phenomena. One is the concept of a mini-pilgrimage which became popular from the medieval period when the idea of visiting more than one shrine or temple, to gain spiritual benefits, became more widespread. However, even during the Edo period, travel was restricted and costly. So the idea of enshrining famous and far-flung kami on the same site became popular. There was also a question of economics, especially when patronage of the Imperial House dried up as it did from time to time. This prompted the creation of the soja, a site that contained a number of the kami of the province. This is the case with Shizuoka Sengen Jinja. The primary difference here is that where most such structures at other shrines would be modest, many splendid buildings were lavished on this site by the Tokugawa who claimed Suruga no kuni (the old name for Shizuoka) as their home province. It is great luck that these buildings have survived.  Of the many shrines, three are considered to be primary. Of these, the kami of Asama or Sengen Jinja (two different readings of the same Chinese characters)—Konohanasakuya—is usually considered to be the kami of Mt. Fuji and is worshiped at all the Sengen Jinja. Onamuchi no mikoto of Kanbe Jinja is considered the ancestor of the Izumo clan and is the deity of Izumo taisha, Omiwa, and Hiyoshi Taisha. Otoshimioya no mikoto is considered a child of Susano-o, father (or grandfather) of Onamuchi and considered a kami of grains and the market place. He is therefore related to Onamuchi and the Izumo line of deities. He was considered the principle kami of Abe River and the area where the shrine is located.
           While the other shrines here are considered sessha and massha of the principle shrines, it seems that Hayama Jinja ranked on the same level prior to the Meiji period when shrines were reorganized and their rankings confirmed or changed. The deity of the shrine is Oyamatsumi, another of the Izumo line, but the great shrine authority R.A.B. Ponsonby-Fane believed it was originally Hayamatsumi one of the five mountain kami created when Izanagi cut off the head of the fire kami, Kagutsuchi. Hayamatsumi was created from his right hand, Oyamatsumi from the head of the fire kami. What is more to the point is that most of the kami here are related to mountains as one might expect.
           Sukunahikona is a kami closely associated with Onamuchi. He is a kami of grains and also of healing and paired with Onamuchi in "building" the land. Yachihoko is another name for Okuninushi no kami who is considered to be the transformed spirit of Onmononushi after he survived a number of trials by his father Susano-o and returned from yomi, the land of the dead. In fact there are so many alternate names for these kami that it is difficult to pin them down exactly. However, as I mentioned above, these kami in their various guises are enshrined at important mountains of the old Yamato polity such as Mt. Hie and Mt. Miwa.
Mt. Fuji
Description: Shizuoka Sengen Jinja is located in the heart of Shizuoka City, a short walk or bus ride from Shizuoka Station which is on the local and the Shinkansen Line. Since this shrine is not part of the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Site, about one hour by train or car from Fujinomia City where Fujisan Hongu Sengen is located, and far from the beginning of any climbing routes up the mountain, it is likely to be overlooked by foreign travelers. That would be a shame. It really is a most important shrine from the point of view of history, architecture and nature and well worth the trip. Located at the base of the small Shizuhatayama, it contains some beautiful old trees, a short hiking course through Shizuhata Park to the north (which also contains a pond), and splendid views of Mt. Fuij.

Festival: Reitaisai, 1~5 April. On the 5th there is a large procession of around one thousand participants and five dashi (called kuruma here) with musicians and pantomime.There is also a performance of bugaku at the buden on the shrine grounds. Other events throughout the week.