November 9, 2012
by Rina Hashiguchi
This article will describe Hirano shrine. This shrine is not so famous, but it has a long history and differs from any other shrine in some respects.
This shrine is dedicated to four gods: Imakinokami, a god of creating vitality and life force; Kudonokami, a god of kitchen ranges; Furuakinokami, a god of exorcism; and Himenokami, a god of producing power.It was built in Nara in 782 to protect the Imperial Palace and the capital from evil, but it was moved toward Kyoto in 794 because of the relocation of the national capital. The court rank of this shrine is high, so a lot of nobles prayed at this shrine. Originally the site of this shrine was very large, and Kinkakuji Temple was also included on the site. However it became smaller and smaller with the change of times, and resulted in the present form.
One point is the cherry blossoms. In fact, this shrine is the most famous site of cherry blossoms which represents Kyoto. In the past, a lot of cherry trees weredonated to this shrine by some nobles in order to pray for the prosperity of their families. In addition, cherry blossoms were believed to be symbolic of enhancing people’s life force. At present there are 400 cherry blossoms in this shrine and every April, a festival of cherry blossoms is held. There are a lot of street stalls and cherry trees. Please try to go there. I’m sure that you can enjoy viewing the blossom.
Another point of interest is a big rock of magnetitie (an oxide of iron that has strong magnetic properties). This is the largest rock of magnetite in Japan and it has two names: Beitetsu and Suehirogane. It has a rounded shape due to river erosion and it has a strong magnetic force. The ancient people couldn’t understand why this stone attracts magnets, so they believed that it had a mysterious power and gods’ spirits dwelled in it. Tha’s why it is said that you get its energy if you touch this stone. “Suehirogane” is located in front of the tree which is about 400 years old. Please touch it and get its energy.
Omamori (personal amulets)
All amulets are designed in the motif of cherry blossoms. There are many kinds of amulets, so you will be able to find your favorite one. Now I will introduce you to a strange amulet. It is “Sazukarumamori” which is an amulet which has magnetic force. If you buy it, please touch to “Suehirogane”, and the amulet will get the power of “Suehirogane.” There are also omikuji, which are random fortunes written on strips of paper at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan. One of them is dolls of a squirrel, because a squirrel is the messenger of Hirano shrine.
Were you able to learn a lot about Hirano shrine? I’m so glad if you are interested in this shrine. People who visit this shrine are very few because it is not so famous, so you will be able to refresh yourself. It is located near Kitano Tenmangu. Please go there and enjoy seeing!