Meta-jinja Shrine (賣太神社)
Meta-jinja Shrine, written as 賣太神社 or 売太神社 in Japanese, is a shrine located at the end of Heida Village, a village surrounded by a moat in Yamatokoriyama City, Nara Prefecture. It is a Shikinai-sha (shrine listed in the Engishiki laws) and its old shrine ranking is kensha (prefectural shrine [of prefectures other than Kyoto and Osaka]).
HIEDA no Are, who participated in the compilation of Kojiki (The Records of Ancient Matters), is worshipped as the shusaijin (main enshrined deity), and Amenouzume (goddess of entertainment) and Sarutahiko (an earthly deity) are worshipped as fukusaishin (vice enshrined deities).
HIEDA no Are no mikoto is the god of scholarship and the god of tales. Ame no Uzume (a goddess in Japanese mythology) is a shiso-shin (an original god) for entertainment. Sarutahiko no mikoto is the god of land and direction, and is the okami (husband god) of Ame no Uzume. HIEDA no Are is originally from the Hieda clan of the Sarumenokimi clan, and Ame no Uzume is the ujigami (a guardian god or spirit of a particular place in the Shinto religion) of the Sarumenokimi clan and the deity from which the clan is descended.
In the middle ages, no one knew what deities were worshipped at this shrine.
Hieda is the hometown of the Hieda clan of the Sarumenokimi clan, whose progenitor is Ame no Uzume, and Meta-jinja Shrine was built as a byoshi (small shrine) for their ancestors. This shrine once existed near the Rajo-mon Gate of Heijo-kyo (the ancient capital of Japan in current Nara), and it is said that the shrine had a role as a doso-shin (travelers' guardian deity).
Up until the Edo period, it was called 'Sanja Myojin,' and then it became 'Jusanja Myojin' in 1874 followed by 'Meta-jinja Shrine' (written as 賣田神社 in Japanese) in 1891, and afterward, the name was changed to the currently-used name 'Meta-jinja Shrine' (written as賣太神社 in Japanese) in 1942.
Are-sai (Are festival)
Are-sai is held every August 16, and this festival is held to remember the illustrious memory of HIEDA no Are. Takehiko KUMESHIMA, a writer of children's stories, thought that HIEDA no Are deserved to be called a god of tales like Hans Christian Andersen, and he started the festival backed up by children's story writers throughout Japan in 1930.
After the dedication of Hieda-mai (dance of Hieda), local children dedicate their Are-sama Ondo (dance song for HIEDA no Are) and children's song for Are-sai. They also read books to children.
A stone monument of storytellers