Along with Otabi-Sha, Ha Shrine is an auxiliary shrine of Tsunashiki Ten Shrine. It is a very small shrine, only about 7㎡ in area, and it may be true to say that its story is more interesting than the shrine itself.
The Yoda River, Osaka’s main river, has overflowed its banks and caused extensive flooding throughout history. Some three centuries ago it seemed likely that there would be heavy flooding in the area which is now Umeda and local inhabitants flocked to the local Inari shrine to pray that the shintai of the shrine, a giant stone, would hold back the water. It did, and reflecting the expression used to describe the holding back,“ha-dome” (歯どめ), the shrine came to be worshipped as the home of Ha-dome-sama. The literal meaning of ha-dome is “tooth stop” and in due course dental issues came to be the divine favours of the shrine: this was followed by the shrine’s name becoming Ha-dome Jinja.
The photo to the right below is said to be a chip broken off from the giant stone, and, somewhat analogous to the pain-easing qualities of the nade-ushi in the Tenjin shrines, it is believed that rubbing this stone will help relieve dental pain. The shrine’s annual festival, held on June 4, celebrates toothbrushes and the day itself has been designated Cavity Prevention Day by the Japan Dental Association. June 4 can of course be written as 6/4: in Japanese 6 can be read as “mu”(む), 4 as “shi“(し). The “ha” of the shrine’s name can also be read as “ba” and combining the three results in “mushiba” (むしば), meaning cavity.
From Merged Shrines
Divine Favours (御利益 Goriyaku)
Relief from toothache (歯痛鎮静, Shitsu Chinsei)
Maintain healthy teeth (健歯護持, Kenpa Goji)
Successful dental business (歯業成就, Hagyo Joju)
Business prosperity (商売繁盛, Shobai Kanjo)
Power to hold things back (歯止祈願, Hadome Kigan)
Early in the Meiji Period the wishes of the local people to see the shrine being taken more seriously resulted in it becoming an auxiliary of Tsunashiki Ten Shrine. Surprisingly, and like the mooring rope on which Sugawara Michizane sat to view the plum blossoms, the shrine was not destroyed during US bombing raids of 1945. Perhaps unsurprisingly this was said to demonstrate its power to ha-dome against wartime fire.
The shrine has now become something of a mecca for anyone connected with dental issues—people suffering from all kinds of toothaches, dentists and would be dentists, technicians working on tooth implants and tooth brushes, etc.—and the expression “Brushing one’s teeth is polishing one’s heart” (歯磨きは己の心磨き) has been developed to encapsulate the shrine’s identity.
Click to expand image