Mitake Jinja (Ikebukuro)
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June 16, 2017
Origin unclear, but said to have been sometime in the Tenshō Period (1573-1592) as the tutelary deity of Ikebukuro village. The main shrine building may have been built in 1687, it was rebuilt in 1854. For a long time this shrine was considered to be subordinate to the Ikebukuro Hikawa Jinja, but in 1938 it was raised to the rank of village shrine and formally named as Mitake Shrine (御嶽神社). In 1959 the shrine buildings were finally renovated after war damage and in 1964 the inner sanctuary (honden) was expanded.
From the eye-catching point of view this Mitake Jinja is overshadowed by the in-ground Kosodate Inari Jinja. The latter is festooned with ceramic kitsune (foxes) and the effect is quite stunning. Less stunning, but in a wider aspect more interesting, are the two sets of owl figures in the shrine grounds, one to the right of the temizuya, the other to the right of the main hall. The former were donated to the shrine in 2002.
Emperor Jimmu 神武天王
Takemizuchi-no-mikoto 175E 武甕槌命
From Merged Shrines
Kosodate Inari Jinja 子育稲荷神社
Earliest mention of:
Unlike those in the Hisatomi Inari JInja, which are nested in their own small shrine, these owls are not. They are ,however, part of a larger group, "The Owls of Ikebukuro." During the Edo Period the affairs of the Ikebukuro-Mitake Jinja were managed by a betto-ji, the Nichiren sect Kanjo-in (観静院) in Minami-Ikebukuro: this was a sub-temple set up by the Kishimojin-dō (鬼子母神堂) of the Hōmyō-ji (法明寺), also in Minami-Ikebukuro, specifically for this purpose. The connection between this and the Owls of Ikebukuro is a traditional toy which originated at the Kishimojin-dō, the susuki-mimizuku. It is made from about 20 ears of susuki (Japanese pampas grass) woven together in the shape of a mimizuku (horned owl) and dangled from a small piece of bamboo. Legend has it that a poor girl visited the temple every night praying for a cure for her sick mother. On one of these occasions, the goddess, Kishimojin, appeared to her, and as a result of this the girl started to make and sell susuki-mimizuku and was soon able to buy the necessary medicines to cure her mother. The story has become part of local folklore, and representations of the owl can be found scattered around Ikebukuro, including the train station.
Although the kami worshipped at the in-ground Inari Jinja is Uke-mochi-no-kami, the shrine's name, Kosodate (子育), which means child rearing, almost certainly derives from Kishimojin, the Japanese transliteration of the Hindu goddess Hārītī, who in her compassionate form is the goddess of safe child delivery and happy child rearing.