Munakata Sanjojin (宗像三女神)

Munakata Sanjojin (Three Goddesses of Munakata) is a collective name for Mihashira no menokami (three female gods) enshrined at Munakata-taisha Shrine (Munakata City, Fukuoka Prefecture).

They are deities who have been highly valued since the ancient times by the Yamato sovereignty (the ancient Japan sovereignty) as the goddesses of Genkai-nada Sea, protecting maritime traffic to Korea. Munakata is written in the "Kiki" (Kojiki (The Records of Ancient Matters) and Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan)) with various Chinese characters.

Summary
It is written in the "Kojiki" that 'these Mihashira no kami (three goddesses) are the three great goddesses before which Munakata no kimi worships.'
Therefore, they were gods worshipped by groups of fishermen such as the Munakata clan. Because of the closer relationship that developed with Korea, the three goddesses, who were native and local deities, came to be worshipped as national deities after the fifth century.

According to the Japanese mythology found in the "Kiki," Amaterasu gave birth to them after she received Totsuka no Tsurugi (The Sword Ten Hands Long) of Susanoo upon making a vow of Amaterasu and Susanoo. Because they were born from monozane (media from which gods are born) they are considered to be Susanoo's children.

The place upon which they descended is a mountain called Mt. Mutsuga-take in Kurate-machi, Kurate-gun, located at the eastern edge of the Munakata area of Fukuoka Prefecture.

Furthermore, according to Nihonshoki, prior to creating a nation Amaterasu indicated to the Munakata sanjin to 'descend upon the sea route from the Munakata area to the Korean Peninsula and the Continent of China, help successive emperors, and at the same time, receive veneration from successive emperors.'
Based on this, the three goddesses descended to their respective places where they exist today, and where they are worshipped.

In one section of "Nihonshoki," it is noted that Amaterasu gave them the divine command, 'Imashi Mihashira no Kami, descend on and reside in the path, aid amemima (grandson of the sun goddess) and be worshipped by amemima.'

Order of birth
The Kojiki
In the Kojiki, the three goddesses are considered to have been born in the following order.

Okitsu-miya Shrine of Okino-shima Island:
Takiri-bime, also known as Okitsushima-hime
Nakatsu-no-miya Shrine of Oshima Island (Fukuoka Prefecture):
Ichikishima-hime, also known as Sayori-bime
Hetsu-miya Shrine of Tajima:
Tagitsu-hime
These three shrines are collectively called the three shrines of Munakata.

Nihonshoki
According to Nihonshoki, the birth order is as follows.

The main text
Okitsu-miya Shrine:
Tagori-hime
Nakatsu-no-miya Shrine:
Tagitsu-hime
Hetsu-miya Shrine:
Ichikishima-hime
The first chapter
Okitsu-miya Shrine:
Okitsushima-hime
Nakatsu-no-miya Shrine:
Tagitsu-hime
Hetsu-miya Shrine:
Tagori-hime
The second chapter
Okitsu-miya Shrine:
Ichikishima-hime
Nakatsu-no-miya Shrine:
Tagori-hime
Hetsu-miya Shrine:
Tagitsu-hime
The third chapter
Okitsu-miya Shrine:
Okitsushima-hime, also known as Ichikishima-hime
Nakatsu-no-miya Shrine:
Tagitsu-hime
Hetsu-miya Shrine:
Tagiri-hime

Tagori-hime is enshrined at Okitsu-miya Shrine on Okino-shima Island located in Genkai-nada Sea. There is a ruin of an ancient ritual site on this island, and the excavated items are all designated as national treasures (belonging to Munakata-taisha Shrine).

History of Munakata-taisha Shrine
The following is according to the history of the Munakata-taisha Shrine.
(There have been various changes in the names and the order of the three goddesses since the ancient times, but currently they are as follows.)

Okitsu-miya Shrine:
Tagori-hime
Nakatsu-no-miya Shrine:
Tagitsu-hime
Hetsu-miya Shrine:
Ichikishima-hime

Shrines in Japan that enshrine the Munakata Sanjojin
They are worshipped as goddesses of the sea and sea voyage. Beside Munakata-taisha Shrine they are enshrined at Itsukushima-jinja Shrine (Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture), Tajima-jinja Shrine (Yobuko-cho, Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture), as well as in other Munakata-jinja Shrines, Itsukushima-jinja Shrines, Hachioji-sha Shrines and Amanomanai-sha Shrines in various places.

The shrines that belong to the Munakata and Itsukushima lines are the fifth most numerous shrines in Japan. Most of them are located on the path from Yamato, Ise and Shima to the continent through the Kumano-nada Sea and Seto Inland Sea.

List of shrines
Munakata-taisha Shrine and the Munakata-jinja Shrines throughout Japan
Aomori Prefecture
Utou-jinja Shrine
Kanagawa Prefecture
Enoshima-jinja Shrine
Okayama Prefecture
Achi-jinja Shrine (Kurashiki City)
Hiroshima Prefecture
Itsukushima-jinja Shrine
Nagasaki Prefecture
Fuchi-jinja Shrine (Nagasaki City)