生島足島神社 Ikushima-Tarushima Jinja
Ikushima Ōkami 生島大神
Tarushima Ōkami 足島大神
From Merged Shrines
Annual Festival: Sept. 19
This is the twentieth of my ex post facto shrine reports. This is another shrine I visited with my late wife Mitsuko; we visited it because her maiden name is Ikushima, written with the same kanji, 生島, as the shrine name. One of the two kami enshrined at the jinja is Ikushima Okami, the other is Tarushima Okami. The shrine’s home page describes Ikushima Okami as the kami creating and nourishing all things, while Tarushima Okami empowers all beings to achieve their potential. These are quite rare kami; to the best of my knowledge the only other jinja where they are enshrined is Ikutama Jinja in Osaka’s Tennoji-ku.
The shrine’s origin is unclear: legend tells us that while Take-minakata-tomi-mikoto (建御名方富命), the main kami of Suwa Jinja, was on his way to Suwa he stopped here and prepared a rice gruel, which he then offered to both Ikushima Okami and Tarushima Okami, the dual kami of the shrine.
In 806 the shrine was allocated at least one household which had to support it by giving it half of its assessed taxes for the year. The Engi-shiki, dating to 927, lists the shrine as the major one for Shinano Province’s Chiisagata district and also lists the dual kami among the 23 worshipped in the Jingi-kan in the Imperial Palace.
Between 1275 and 1278 the shrine buildings were repaired by a local branch of the Hojo clan and other local dignitaries donated rice paddies to the shrine. Jumping forward to the late-16th early-17th century the shrine was receiving support from Sanada Masayuki (真田昌幸) and succeeding lords of Ueda Castle.
The shrine continued to receive imperial support. Whenever a new municipality was formally established a ceremony invoking Ikushima Okami and Tarushima Okami would often be held. In 1869 rites were held for the two kami in the Imperial Palace, and in 1890 an imperial envoy bestowed “official government shrine” ranking. Construction of the current main hall was completed in 1940 with government funding, and in September 1998 the inner shrine was designated a “Prefectural Treasure.”
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