Shirahige-jinja Shrine (白鬚神社)

Shirahige-jinja Shrine is a shrine in Ukawa, Takashima City, Shiga Prefecture. It is said to be the oldest shrine in Omi Province. It is the main shrine of Shirahige-jinja Shrines around the nation. The enshrined deity is Sarutahiko.

Summary
Its torii (shrine archway), which appears to be floating on the shore of Lake Biwa against the background of Oki-Island, is so impressive that it is also called 'Itsukushima-jinja Shrine of Omi'.

Impersonating Sarutahiko okami (the great god of Sarutahiko) as an old man with white hair derives from the name of the shrine, and the shrine is also the scene of a Noh song "Shirahige". Also from the name of the shrine, the god is known as a god of longevity.

History
The shrine tradition says it started when Yamatohime no mikoto founded a shrine in 5 B.C. In 674, the shrine was given the name Hira myojin Shrine by Imperial order of Emperor Tenmu. It is a Kokushigenzai-sha Shrine as the description that Hira god was given a divine rank of Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) is seen under the heading of January 18, 865 (old calender) of "Nihon sandai jitsuroku" (history book written in the Heian period), but it is not listed in Engishiki Jinmyocho (a list of shrines).

Honden (the main shrine building), Wakamiya-sha Shrine (the sub-shrine), Ise-jingu Shrine (two main shrines, Naiku and Geku) and the three shrines of Hachiman were built by carpenters from Harima Province under a bugyo Katsumoto KATAGIRI by order of Hideyori TOYOTOMI to excecute dead Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI's will.

Festivals
The annual festival is held on September 5-6.

Cultural Properties
The main shrine building is a Momoyama Style building and is designated as an important cultural property.

In front of the shrine office in the precinct, there is a monument engraved with a waka poem composed by spouses Tekkan YOSANO and Akiko YOSANO when they visited the shrine.

Access
From Omi-takashima Station on the JR Kosei Line, take Route 161 (changed to Prefectural Road 558 in April, 2007), 3km toward the south. There is a community bus service, but it is irregular, running from the shrine to Omi-takashima Station only (the bus toward the south runs past the shrine).

The Kojaku Railway that used to run in the west of Lake Biwa (abolished on November 1, 1969) had Shirahige Station in the south of Shirahige-jinja Shrine, but the Kosei Line that replaced it does not have a station there, and the line runs through the Takashima tunnel in the mountain behind the shrine.