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November 11, 2017
The three Minuma Hikawa Jinja
Minuma is a large, 1,260 ha, area in central Saitama-ken which until the early Edo period was mostly marshland (the "numa" in Minuma means marsh). In 1629, during the rule of the eight Tokugawa Shōgun, Yoshimune, selective drainage of the marshes started and from the early eighteenth century rice paddies became the dominant feature of the Minuma landscape. There are three Hikawa Jinja associated with the area, of which Hikawa-Nyotai Jinja is one. This shrine's main deity, Kushinada-hime, is the wife of Susano-o. He is the main deity of the Omiya Hikawa Jinja (the main Hikawa Jinja), which is often referred to as Nantai-sha (男体社, lit. "male body shrine"): the 女體 (nyotai, lit. "female body") in this shrine's name is a conjugal counterpoint. Note that 體 is an older form of 体. There is a third shrine, Nakayama Jinja, which is located almost directly between Omiya Hikawa Jinja and Hikawa-Nyotai Jinja. Its main deity is Ōnamuchi, an alternative name for Ōkuni-nushi, who
(Note: numbers in parentheses after kami names
refer to position in How Many Kami table)
Kushinada-hime-mikoto (70) 奇稲田姫命
From Merged Shrines
Ryū (Dragon) Jinja 竜神社
Earliest mention of: 148-29 BC (?)
Annual Festival: October 8
the Nihon-shoki identies as Susano-o's son, and for this reason it is often referred to the Hi-ōji-sha (ōji means crown prince). These three Hikawa Jinja have traditionally been thought of as being one unified Hikawa Jinja, and they share the Musashi-Kuni Ichinomiya title.
The shrine legend has it that the shrine was built during the reign of the tenth Emperor, Sujin (148-29 BC), as a bunshi of the Izumo Grand Shrine, but what historical evidence there is would seem to point to the Nara Period (710-794) as the more likely time of its construction.
In 1591 Tokugawa Ieyasu granted the shrine a 50-koku stipend, and shrine records indicate that it was at this time that it was first called Hikawa Myōjin (簸川明神). Nyotai (女體) was subsequently added to the name and the character for "Hi" was changed from 簸 to 氷. The main hall was rebuilt in 1667 by the Lord of Oshi Castle, Abe Tadaaki, on the instructions of the fourth Tokugawa Shōgun, Ietsuna, and along with this the Musashi-Kuni Ichinomiya appellation was first adopted. Further work was carried out in the Jōkyō (1684-1688), Kyōhō (1716-1736) and Kan'en (1748-1751) Periods.
About 4 kms from Higashi-Urawa Station, but there is a convenient bus service. It is situated in the smallish Hikawaminuma Park and has a very rural feeling about it. One of the most interesting aspects of the shrine is the number of hokora (small shrine) scattered about the grounds. There is a group of four just behind the main hall, and although none of them have plaques indicating which kami they enshrine, two other hokora are identified as Inari-Sha. The Ryū (Dragon) Jinja reflects the close association between dragons and water, in this case the Minuma marsh. Possibly starting in the fourteenth century, the shrine has held a mifune festival: this entails the loading of a palanquin (mikoshi) on to a boat and taking it to the deepest part of the marsh to pay homage to the god of the marsh, Ryūjin, the Dragon God. Note that the picture of the dragon in the centre is taken from one of the shrine's notice boards.
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