Iza-nagi, Iza-nami, A-ma-terasu…
I have heard the name before, but what kind of god is it? I know of the chronicle of the “Kojiki,” but have never read it.There may be many people like this out there.
Living in Nara, which has a long history, there are many gods you can meet if you take the time to explore. This time, I would like to draw a god card and learn about Japanese gods by visiting shrines.
What is a “God card”?
A God card is an oracle card deck that introduces 48 gods from among the gods of the Kojiki, one of Japan’s oldest history books compiled 1300 years ago. (It might be easy to understand if you imagine a Tarot card deck)
Konohana Sakuya Hime
The god card I drew this time was:
Konohana Sakuya Hime no Mikoto
The Kojiki and Konohana Sakuya Hime
Konohana Sakuya Hime was a goddess whom Nini-gi, the god who brought the first rice ears to this world, fell in love with at first sight, asking her to marry him. Sakuya Hime’s father, O-yama-tsumi, was pleased that his daughter was courted by the god and offered her to Nini-gi and they were married soon after.
In fact, at that time, father O-yama-tsumi actually offered a choice of one of two daughters of his to Nini-gi and said “If you make my elder daughter (Iwanaga Hime) your wife (“Iwa” meaning “stone”), your life will be eternal. If you make my younger daughter (Konohana Sakuya Hime) your wife (“hana” meaning “flower”), you will prosper like flowers bloom”. However, it is said that Nini-gi refused Iwanaga Hime because he thought her to be ugly and instead married Konohana Sakuya Hime for her beauty. As a result, the lives of the descendents of Nini-gi were destined to be short but beautiful.
On the first day of their marriage, Konohana Sakuya Hime became pregnant, which Nini-gi thought was strange and suspected that it might be the child of another god. In response to this accusation, Konohana Sakuya Hime angrily closed all the windows of the maternity room she was in and set a fire saying “if they are your children, they should be able to be born safely in any calamity.” In the midst of the fire, she successfully gave birth to three gods, Hodelli (Umi Sachi Hiko), Hos’seri, and Hoori (Yama Sachi Hiko). This same line would eventually lead to humans, who live short lives as a result of Nini-gi’s choice.
Message from Konohana Sakuya Hime (From the God Card)
“Just leave it as it is and wait for the time to come. You will know when the time is right just as flowers blossom naturally. With inner power and the blessings of nature, you will bloom wonderful flowers. But also know that there is also beauty to be found in fresh green leaves, the crimson foliage of fall, and when the leaves drop and winter sets in.”
“Safe delivery, child care, family happiness, disaster eradication, protection of agriculture and fisheries, mountain climbing safety, etc.”
“True beauty, prosperity, nobility, partnership”
Shrines in Nara where Konohana Sakuya Hime is enshrined
Taima Yamaguchi Shrine
Address: 1081 Taima, Katsuragi-shi, Nara
An old shrine located in front of the entrance to Mt. Nijo. Konohana Sakuya Hime is worshiped together with her husband Nini-gi and father O-yama-tsumi.
This shrine is located in a forest, so the approach to the shrine is refreshing and comfortable. On the day we visited, there was a man taking a nap with a cat (a feline resident of the shrine) on his lap. The sunlight was shining on them, making for a very peaceful and impressive sight.
Address: 4-14-3 Nohara Nishi, Gojo-shi, Nara
It is a shrine that has had a strong reputation since ancient times as a place to pray for safe childbirth. The tradition goes that if you want to have a baby boy, you should request a white bell rope from the shrine and put it in your girdle. If you want to have a baby girl, you need to request a red bell rope and do the same. If you end up giving birth safely, it is customary to dedicate a new bell rope to the shrine.
On the east side of the shrine, there is a forest called “Shimeshi Kakeno Forest” (also known as “Hime Hikake Forest”). According to the Kojiki, Konohana Sakuya Hime’s maternity room (where she set the fire) was located in this area wherein she gave birth to Hodelli (Umi Sachi Hiko), Hos’seri, and Hoori (Yama Sachi Hiko) . This forest is named after the myth and it is still a restricted area.
In this article, I introduced two shrines related to Konohana Sakuya Hime. I will continue to introduce shrines in Nara related to the God cards, so why don’t you draw a “God card” and go to a shrine associated with a deity as well?
*There are several other names for Konohana Sakuya Hime, such as “Ada Hime”, “Kami-atatsu Hime”, and “Kamu-ataka-ashitsu Hime”.
Reference: Japanese God Illustration Book / Shinsei Publishing
In cooperation with: “Japanese God Cards”