C. and I are back from the Dark Side of the Mountains, which we visited over the weekend. Here are some old postcards I bought up there, showing a roughly Taishō-period Izumo Shrine.

出雲大社 (Izumo Ōyashiro)

Here's something I didn't know about Izumo Ōyashiro (as they prefer to call it there): its administrators claim descent from the gods, just like the emperor. The story is that Ōkuninushi no Ōkami moved into the dangerous and disease-ridden mundane world, fixed it up, then handed it over to his aunt Amaterasu Ōmikami in an event fondly known as the kuni-yuzuri (nation-yielding).

大社教本院 (Ōyashiro-kyō hon'in)

This cleared the way for Amaterasu Ōmikami's grandson Ninigi no Mikoto to claim temporal Japan, while Ōkuninushi no Ōkami himself "retired" to a residence which Amaterasu Ōmikami had built for him out of gratitude. She also ordered her other son, Ame-no-Hohi no Mikoto, to serve him there (thus inventing the Shintō priesthood, as it happens).

And so, as Izumo Ōyashiro's English pamphlet puts it:

[That residence] is Izumo Grand Shrine, and it is from here that O-kuninushi-no-okami lovingly guides us all to happiness, and even now he is devoutly worshipped for this. The administrators of the rituals for O-kuninushi-no-okami and Izumo Oyashiro are descended in a single lineage from Amenohohi-no-mikoto, the original servant of the shrine.
大社教本院神殿 (Ōyashiro-kyō hon'in shinden)

(Note that Ame-no-Hohi no Mikoto was not Ninigi's father—that was Ame-no-Oshihomimi no Mikoto—which means that the latest common ancestor shared by the imperial line and the Izumo administrators is Amaterasu Ōmikami herself.)

Popularity factor: 14


Of course, it wasn't always good family relations between the Kings of Izumo (and its shrine) and the Emperors in the Kinai. There's the story in Nihon shoki of how the sacred treasure left Izumo to be held in the capital (it involved fratricide); and according to the ritual codes, the Izumo Kings had to come and swear fealty to each new Emperor. (Not unlike the yearly "submission" of some groups from elsewhere in Japan--I'm not sure what made the 国栖 so exotic, but they had to come and present ethnic dances yearly. And those guys weren't from Kyushu or Tohoku even.)

I can't remember if the regional bigwig/shrine head who used to take up all the available maidens for "shrine attendants" and sleep with them was from Izumo, or some other regional shrine like Kashima. I'd have to check the Sandai kyaku for that.


Is the story of the sacred treasure in the Kojiki as well? I don't remember it at all (and the Kojiki is the only one of the Golden Oldies I've read properly in the original).


(Well, I feel a little better about my tags not showing up, now.)

I'd have to check, but my memory is that it isn't. I haven't read the 古事記 properly in its original (and I'm a bit loathe to do so until I can find an edition without Motoori's influence stamped all over it, because I'm stubborn that way), so I can't say for sure. I'll go back and look it up, because my memory is that it's something like Yamato Takeru's hobbit-sneaksies-ness with the wooden sword, and I'm not sure that's quite right.

That there was some skullduggery involved, I remember clearly, because it's part and parcel of the "how the Yamato ran roughshod over all-comers/solidified their rule" story that we historians deal with so often.


I haven't read the 古事記 properly in its original (and I'm a bit loathe to do so until I can find an edition without Motoori's influence stamped all over it, because I'm stubborn that way)

Yeah, I can see how that'd make things difficult for you. I guess first you'd need to find a publisher/editor brave enough to start work on a new edition that discards basically all the work done on the text between 1800 and 1950 (and most of the work done after then too).

Me, I wallow in Motoori. I even have the Iwanami Kojiki den! It's a wild adventure in premodern philology.


So how many children did you pray for at Izumo?


Until the 16th Century Taisha was administered by nearby Gakuen-ji temple (built the century before Taisha). In the 16th Century Taisha executed the first shinbutsu bunri. At that time there was some confusion as Gakuen-ji's records showed that the kami enshrined at Taisha was in fact Susano.

I too would love to find a kojiki with motoori :)


Man, how embarrassing to learn that you'd been enshrining the wrong kami all along... (And Iwanami's Kojikiden isn't hard to find, though out of print. You gotta be prepared to pay 5000+ for it, though.)

Joel: To be honest I asked Mr Daikoku to hook me up with some free time. Which is kind of the opposite of children, if I understand correctly.


Well, if you *are* blessed with little mikoto, I hope you name them Ama and Nini.


”Until the 16th Century Taisha was administered by nearby Gakuen-ji temple...."

I have to wonder when that really started, since the administration in the early 10th century seems to be that the shrine was administered and the rituals performed by the local hereditary bigwigs. A temple was probably established in Izumo fairly early--not as early as in the Kinki, but the "dark side of the mountains" wasn't necessarily the back of beyond then. But it took temples a while in some places to perform their hostile and friendly takeovers of the local areas of worship.

(As we tell our students, be very careful with "until" or "since," and "since the dawn of time" is never, never an appropriate way to begin a history paper.)

I checked the manuscript holdings of the archive I'm associated with, and alas, no 古事記. (Admittedly, the mission of the archive is "history," so that might explain that.) Mostly, I just want a chance to read it without preconceptions (as best possible), and then I don't mind going back and getting Motoori-fied.

I read 伊勢物語 without notes, and later found out that I'd come up with the same misreading that generations of Japanese female commentators did. That was pretty fun.


I believe Gakuenji was one of the "Nation Building" temples. Taisha did not become popular within Izumo until the late Heian. The Ichinomiya was Sada, and the Ninomiya was Kumano. The point, to me at least, is that Okuninushi was a Yamato stooge used by the Yamato to denigrate and depose the "father of Japan", Susano. The area around Taisha has numerous small shrines to Susano and iron and "Kara" (which was Shiragi). Many of the stories attributed to Okuninushi (by the Yamato) are attributed locally to Susano and other kami.


I read 伊勢物語 without notes, and later found out that I'd come up with the same misreading that generations of Japanese female commentators did.

You're just going to leave us hanging?

Jake-- Shrines to Silla in general?


Between Gakuenji and Taisha is Karakamma jinja. Nearby Hinomisaki Jinja was built on top of Karakuni Jinja. Down the coast in my neck of the woods is Karashima, the stone boat that Susano and Isotake arrived here by. There are several more I havent visited yet. The connection of Izumo to Sila is well established. The connection of the Yamato to Paekche also. I suspect the wars and politics on the Korean peninsular played out in the Japanese islands a little.


”Taisha did not become popular within Izumo until the late Heian." Source?

To be honest, I would not know how to judge popularity within the area the shrine was in. There are shrines up in Tohoku that seem to be more important as far as the court goes (or at least, as far as the 延喜式 goes) than they probably were for the locals; on the other hand, archeological surveys at Keta Shrine indicate a great deal of activity there, and it was ranked rather low in the 式. (Since most of the documents are from the point of view of the capital, and I'm not Amino Yoshihiko to discover new caches of provincial records, I tend to focus on that side of things.)

Ichinomiya and Ninomiya are rather late innovations, and relate more (sometimes) to "distance to Provincial Headquarters" than "this be the gods that bring all the worshippers to the yard." Provincial governors being lazy sorts, who abandoned their legally mandated tours of shrines probably by the 11th century. (When they weren't being greedy sorts, or absentee sorts, apparently.)

On 伊勢物語--first section, I read the poem about disordered grasses being whose fault now, really, as a response poem from the sisters. A "Oh, so you gonna blame us for your peeping now, huh?" response. Or, to take the logic of the female commentators--of course the women responded: that's just what you would do. Why the hell would anyone get a poem written about them, or two in a row, without a chance to respond? Both sides were just that courtly in those days, even women who were out in the semi-boondocks of Nara.

I like that interpretation better, even still.

Oddly enough, I'm to review the section of the law codes on Izumo and the royal ascension tomorrow. Unfortunately, it would still not tell me where exactly the story about the theft of the sacred treasure of Izumo is in the histories. That will probably take my "spare time" to re-find.


I'm not an academic, so I don't keep good track of my sources, but I believe it was from Kumano Taisha's history, and I would guess they got it from the Fudoki.
You're right, it did not say ichinomiya etc but said Izumo Taisha was ranked 4th in terms of number of pilgrims.
The history of Kumano Taisha also illustrates the process of supplanting Susano and local gods with yamato gods.

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