Susano-o-no mikoto 素盞嗚尊
From Merged Shrines
Annual Festival: September 28
Chichibu Imamaiya Jinja's ecletic history is more than hinted at by the kami it enshrines, coming as they do from the Shinto, Buddhist and Shugendo realms, and the fact that it still uses its Buddhist name.
It is one of Japan’s oldest and most distinguished shrines. It is said that it originated sometime around 100 AD when immigrants from Suwa arrived in Chichibu and in awe of the apparently miraculous spring water gushing forth from Mt. Buko worshipped it as Suijin, the god of water. Coming into more historical times it came to be worshipped in the beings of Izanagi and Izanami, the two kami who gave birth to the islands of Japan.
It seems that around the time of the Jinshin War in 1672 Chichibu threw its weight behind Emperor Tenmu at the urging of En no Gyoja, usually considered to be the founder of Shugendo, and benefitted greatly when Tenmu emerged victorious. While he was undergoing austerities in Chichibu, En no Gyoja introduced the worship of Hachidai Ryuo (八大龍王), the guardian deity of Kannon Bosatsu, at the miraculous spring water site. The worship of Hachidai Ryuo was merged with that of Kyuchu Yakami (宮中八神, lit. Imperial Court Eight Gods) and
the site, now the centre of Chichibu Shugendo, became known as Hachidai Ryuo-Gu and/or Hachidai-Gu (八大宮). In 825 Kukai, the founder of the Shingon Buddhist sect, came to the region and opened a dojo in a cave in the grounds of the nearby Hashidate Temple (橋立寺) where he spent 37 days practicing Buddhist rites. In 984 Omiyamamanko-ji (大宮山満光寺)was established, followed by Chogakusan-seikakuinkongo-ji (長岳山正覚院金剛寺)in 1038. In the late Heian Period, i.e. before 1185, Kumano Gongen was enshrined through the kanjō process, and in a good example of the syncretism between Buddhism and Japan’s indigenous faiths was worshipped along with Dai Nichi Nyorai (大日如来) and Kyuchu Yakami (宮中八神); the shrine became known as Hachidai-Gongen-Sha.
In 1535 Susano-o-no mikoto, the kami of the Imamiya Jinja in Kyoto was enshrined through the kanjō process. This was in response to the outbreak of an epidemic as Susano had come to be identified with the kami of pestilence and disease in the Buddhism/Shinto syncretism. By the late sixteenth century the site, which was a hodgepodge of shrines, shugendo dojo, and temples, occupied a site of about 660,000 m2.
During the Edo Period, the two shrines, Imamiya Hachiman-Gu and Hachidai-Gongen-Sha, were merged with Chogakusan-seikakuinkongo-ji, Omiyamamanko-ji, Imamiya Kannon-Do (今宮観音堂) and Hashidate-Do, and the new entity was named Ima Miyabo. Come Shinbutsu-bunri in 1868 and the enforced separation of Shinto and Buddhism, Ima Miyado was split into three entities, Imamiya Jinja, Imamiya Kannon-Do and Hashidate Kannon-Do(橋立観音堂).
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