Sanno Shinko (山王信仰)

Sanno Shinko is a belief of Shinto originated from Hiyoshi Taisha shrine at the foot of Mt. Hiei (Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture). Shrines named like Hiyoshijinja Shrine, Hiejinja Shrine, and Sannojinja Shrine are branched from Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine based on the belief in the mountain deity, which is called Sanno Shinko belief, and there are approximately 3,800 brunch shrines throughout Japan enshrining Ooyamakuinokami and Oomononushinokami (or Okuninushinokami). During the amalgamation of Buddhism with the indigenous religion Shinto, the shrines were named Sanno, Sanno-Gongen, Hiyoshi-Sanno, and the like, and now they are nicknamed Sanno-san. Monkey is considered the sacred messenger from the deities.

Summary and History

Sanno is another name for Hiejinja Shrine (also known as Hietaisha Shrine) in Sakamoto, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture.

Hiyoshijinja Shrine originally enshrined Ooyamakuinokami, a deity of Mt. Hiei (originally written as 日枝山 and later as 比叡山) in Omi Province; and in 668, the next year of relocation of capital to Omikyo, Oomikawanokami, i.e., Oomononushinokami, of Mt. Miwa (also known as Mt. Mimoro) in Yamato Province was transferred to the shrine to be enshrined with Ooyamakuinokami to protect the new capital Otsukyo.

After Enryakuji Temple of the Tendai sect was constructed on Mt. Hiei, Ooyamakuinokami and Oomononushinokami were venerated as tutelary deities of the temple as they were guardian deities of the region. Following suit of Kokuseiji Temple on Mt. Tendai in Tang that enshrined 'Sanno Genhitsu shinkun' as the guardian deity of the region, Enryakuji Temple called the deities Sanno.

The worship of the deities as the tutelary deities of Enryakuji Temple of the Tendai sect developed into the Sanno Shinko belief, from which a belief called 'Sanno shinto' was further derived later. In the Sanno shinto, it was considered that the deities of Sanno are manifestation of Shakyamuni, and as each of the Chinese characters '山' and '王' consists of three lines and a line going through the three lines, the Sanno shinto worship was taught in connection with the thoughts of the Tendai sect known as Santai Sokuitsu, meaning three forms of truth is originally one thing. As the Tendai esoteric Buddhism is systematized to realize specific miracles including the protection of the nation, enrichment and longevity, and good health by the magico-religious rites and prayers as its mission, it gave the Sanno shinto a feature of intensifying mysterious power and magical power to realize 'divine favor in this life'.

As the Tendai sect was propagated across Japan, Hiyoshijinja Shrine was branched and constructed across Japan based on the Sanno Shinko belief. There are about 3,800 shrines under the names of Hiyoshijinja Shrine, Hiejinja Shrine, and Sannojinja Shrine in Japan. During the amalgamation of Buddhism with the indigenous religion Shinto, the shrines were named Sanno, Sannno-Gongen, Hiyoshi-Sanno, and the like, and now they are nicknamed Sanno-san. Monkey is considered the sacred messenger of Hiyoshijinja Shrine, but the relationship between the shrine and monkey is unknown. This is presumed to be a legacy of a primitive belief.

Hiyoshitaisha Shrine began to have its dignified appearance as the head shrine by having Daigu (or Daihiei, original enshrined deity: Shakuju Nyorai) and Ninomiya (or Kohiei, original enshrined deity: Yakushi Nyorai) as gracious deities at both sides, by adding Shoshinshi (original enshrined deity: Amida Nyorai) later to collectively call three of them Sanno Sanjo or Sansei, and by further adding Hachioji (original enshrined deity: Senju Kannon), Kyakujin (original enshrined deity: Juichimen Kannon), Juzenji (original enshrined deity: Jizo Bodai), and Sangu (original enshrined deity: Fugen Bodai) to collectively call them Sanno nanasha (Kami nanasha). According to the theory of Honji Suijakusetsu, it increased its subshrines by seven as nakananasha and seven as shimonanasha to call the whole of the shrines 'Sanno 21 shrines'.

The portable shrines carried by warrior monks of Mt. Hiei for a direct petition in the mediaeval era belonged to Hiyoshitaisha Shrine.

In 1571, Hiyoshitaisha Shrine was burned down in the Siege of Mt. Hiei headed by Nobunaga ODA. The shrine buildings that still exist today were reconstructed after the Azuchi-Momoyama period.

The existent main buildings of Hiyoshitaisha Shrine called Sanno 21 shrines are listed below. The old names are parenthesized and the enshrined deities are italicized.

Kaminanasha (Sanno nanasha)
Nishihongu (Daigu (Daihiei)) Oonamuchinokami
Higashihongu (Ninomiya (Kohiei)) Ooyamakuinokami
Usagu (Shoshinshi) Tagorihimenokami
Ushiojinja (Hachioji) Ooyamakuinokamiaramitama
Shirayamahimejinja (Kyakujin) Shirayamahimenokami
Jugejinja (Juzenji) Kamotamaiyorihimenokami
Sannomiyagujinja (Sannomiya) Kamotamaiyorihimenokamiaramitama

Nakananasha
Oomonoimijinja (Daigyoji) Otoshinokami
Ushinomikosha (Ushinomiko) Yamasuenooonushinokamiaramitama
Shinmonoimijinja (Shingyoji) Amenochikarumizuhimenokami
Yahashirasha (Shimohachioji) Gonansanjoshin
Hayaojinja (Hayao) Susanoonokami
Ubuyajinja (Oji) Kamowakeikazuchi
Usawakamiya (Seijo) Shimoteruhimenokami

Shimonanasha
Jugewakamiya (Shozenji) Tamayorihikonokami
Kamadensha (Daigukamaden) Okutsuhikonokami, Okutsuhimenokami
Kamadensha (Ninomiyakamaden) Okutsuhikonokami, Okutsuhimenokami
Ujigamijinja (Yamasue) Kamonotaketsunominomikoto, Kotonotachiushimaro
Iwaonotakisha (Iwaonotaki) Ichikishimahimenomikoto, Tagitsushimahimenomitoto
Tsuruginomiyasha (Tsuruginomiya) Niniginomikoto
Kehisha (Kehi) Chuaitenno

Sannomatsuri was one of Three Major Festivals in Edo together with Kandamatsuri and Fukagawamatsuri that were crowded with people, and it began when Ieyasu TOKUGAWA was transferred to a new domain of Edo and Ieyasu transferred Hiyoshisha Shrine to the Momijiyama hill within Edo-jo Castle to make it the guardian deity of the castle. This Hiyoshisha Shrine was originally branched from the Hiyoshisha Shrine that was the guardian deity of Muryojuji Temple (present Kitain Temple) in Kawagoe in 1478 by Dokan OTA when he constructed Edo-jo Castle. It is said that Muryojuji Temple was built by Ennin (also known as Jikakudaishi) on orders of Emperor Junna in 830 during the early Heian period. Incidentally, the Hiyoshisha Shrine in Edo was renamed Hiejinja Shrine after July 30, 1868.
(due to Shinbutsubunri edict to separate Shinto and Buddhism)

As the Tendai sect was propagated across Japan, Sanno Gongen was branched and constructed across Japan mostly to be the guardian deity of the Tendai sect temples. Under the edict of Shinbutsubunri promulgated by the Meiji government, the influence of Buddhism on Sanno Gongen was removed and Sanno Gongen were separated from the temples.

The shrine names '日吉' is pronounced as 'Hie' for some temples, '日吉' is pronounced as 'Hiyoshi' for some temples, and '日枝' is pronounced as 'Hie' for some temples.

Head Shrine

Hiyoshitaisha (Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture, former Kanpei taisha [major imperial shrine], Beppyo jinja [shrines on the exceptional list classified by the Association of Shinto Shrines])

Beppyo Jinja and Former Kankokuheisha (imperial shrines and national shrines)

Hiejinja (Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, former Kanpei taisha, Beppyo jinja)
Hiejinja (Toyama City) (Toyama City, Toyama Prefecture, former prefectural shrine, Beppyo jinja)

Other shrines

Hiyoshijinja (Godocho) (Godocho, Anpachigun, Gifu Prefecture, former prefectural shrine)
Hiejinja (Takayama City) (Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture, former prefectural shrine)
Hiejinja (Sakata City) (Sakata City, Yamagata Prefecture, former prefectural shrine)
Hiejinja (Kiryu City) (Umedacho, Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture, former prefectural shrine)
Hiyoshihachimanjinja (Akita City, Akita Prefecture, former prefectural shrine)
Hiejinja (Togane City) (Togane City, Chiba Prefecture, former district shrine)
Ojinushijinja (also known as Sannojinja) (Nanao City, Ishikawa Prefecture, former district shrine)
Ookuninushijinja (Takashima City) (Takashima City, Shiga Prefecture, former village shrine)
Hiyoshininomiyajinja (Takashima City, Shiga Prefecture, former village shrine)
Shinhiyoshijingu (Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, former urban prefectural shrine)
Hiyoshijinja (Yanagawa City) (Yanagawa City, Fukuoka Prefecture, former prefectural shrine)
Hiyoshijinja (Kumamoto City) (Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture, former prefectural shrine)
Sannojinja (Nagasaki City) (Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture, former prefectural shrine)
Hiejinja, (Ota Ward) (Sanno, Ota Ward, Tokyo) The neighborhood was named 'Sanno' after the shrine.
Hiejinja (Oyama City) (Oyama City, Tochigi Prefecture, former village shrine)
Hiejinja (Tanabe City) (Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture)