Yoshino Mikumari-jinja Shrine (吉野水分神社)

Yoshino Mikumari-jinja Shrine is a shrine located in the Komori district of Yoshino-cho, Yoshino County, Nara Prefecture (Mt. Yoshino Kami-senbon). It is a shikinaisha (Shinto shrine listed in the Engishiki) and a sonsha (village shrine) in the old shrine ranking.

As one of the four Mikumari-jinja Shrines of the Yamato Province along with Katsuragi Mikumari-jinja Shrine, Tsuge Mikumari-jinja Shrine and Uda Mikumari-jinja Shrine, it has been worshiped for a very long time. Also, 'Mikumari' sounds like 'Mikomori' (to be with child), causing it to be called the Komori Myojin (deity of pregnancy) and attracting worship as the god of pregnancy. It is said that Norinaga MOTOORI's parents prayed to the Komori Myojin and were subsequently blessed.

In July 2004 it was registered as part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range."

Enshrined Deity

Ame no Mikumari no Okami who rules water is the main deity, and other associated gods that are enshrined are Takamimusubi, Sukunabikona, Mikogami, Ninigi, Tamayoribime and Takuhatachijihime no Mikoto.

The "Jinja Yoroku" (Main Records of Shrines) refers to Ame no Mikumari no Okami as a god that controls the distribution of water such as water sources and river routes as well as rain, while in the "Jinmyocho Kosho" (Historical Back of Jinmyocho) and the "Yamatokoku Daisho Shojinja Shinmyoki narabini Engi" he is simply referred to as the god of water.

History

Details surrounding the founding are unknown. The oldest record regarding this shrine is the April 29, 698, listing in the "Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicles of Japan Continued), where it states that a horse was offered to the Yoshino Mikumari no Mine no Kami (Yoshino god of water distribution) to ask for rain.

This shrine is said to have originally been located in the deepest area of Mt. Yoshino at the border of Yoshino-cho, Kurotaki-mura and Kawakami-mura (Nara Prefecture) where Mt. Aonegatake is. Mt. Aonegatake is the mountain providing the source for three rivers - Kisaya-gawa River which is a branch of Yoshino-gawa River that flows to the east, Akino-gawa River which flows to the west and Otonashi-gawa River which flows to the north - making it a suitable place for the god of moisture and water distribution to be enshrined. It was relocated to its current location around the year 806. In the Engishiki Jinmyocho (register of shrines in Japan) it is recorded as 'Yamato Province Yoshino County Yoshino Mikumari-jinja Shrine'; belonging to a Grand Shrine, it received heihaku (a sacramental strip of silk offered to gods) at monthly and Niiname rites. Belongs to the Maebo family (前防家).

Started to be called 'Komori Myojin' during the mid-Heian period. It is said that Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI came to this land and was blessed with his son Hideyori TOYOTOMI. The current sanctuary (main building) was built by Hideyori in 1605.

During the period of syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism it was said that the water god was a manifestation of Jizo Bosatsu (Ksitigarbha), and became a shrine belonging to Zao Gongen of Mt. Kinpusen (Kinpusen-ji Temple) and one of the training grounds for Shugendo (Japanese mountain asceticism-shamanism incorporating Shinto and Buddhist concepts). During the separation of Shinto and Buddhism in the Meiji period it became independent of Kinpusen-ji Temple and was ranked a village shrine.

National Treasures

Wooden seated statue of Tamayorihime no Mikoto – Kamakura period. A statue of a goddess that gives the feeling that the figure of a woman in a picture scroll was recreated as sculpture. While most Japanese sculptures of deities can be quite unsophisticated, this work of sculpture was very lifelike and incorporated the use of gyokugan (method where crystal pieces are used for the eyes). The inside of the statue is inscribed with the year 1251. It is stored in the right hall of the main building (to the left when facing the building). Because it is a sacred object belonging to the shrine, it is not displayed to the public and there is no record of it being shown in any exhibition.

Important Cultural Properties

Six shrine buildings – built in 1605. Built by Hideyori TOYOTOMI.

Tower Gate
Main hall – A very unique style with three gables at the front and three halls in a row, the middle hall built in Kasuga-zukuri style and the remaining two in Nagare-zukuri style

Worship hall
Votive offering hall
Corridor (two buildings)
Tsuketari (attachments, appurtenances): Sukibei (transparent fence), four hanging lanterns (inscribed 1604 and 1746)
Wooden seated statue of Ameyorozu Takuhatachihatahime no Mikoto

Directions

From the Kintetsu Yoshino Line Yoshino Station (Nara Prefecture) take the Yoshino ropeway to Yoshino-yama Station and walk 1.5 hours.