This is the eleventh of my ex post facto shrine reports.
Detailed information on Sugawara Michizane can be found here.
It is said that well over 1,000 years ago a carving made by Sugawara Michizane during his exile in Dazaifu and thrown into the sea by him was washed up on the shore of Kita-no-shō in Settsu Province. The carving was worshipped by the local people. In 997, it was moved to a Tendai-sect temple, Itokuzan-Tenjin-Jōraku-ji (天台宗威徳山天神常楽寺) and along with this a jinja was built to enshrine it. This was called the Tenjin-sha and is the origin of the current shrine. At the time Kasuga Myōjin(春日明神) and Sannō Kongen (山王大権現) were worshipped at Jōraku-ji.
On the night of December 14, 1532 the shrine was one of abut 4,000 structures in Kita-no-shō destroyed by fire. By 1574 the shrine had been largely rebuilt as part of a joint shrine/temple.
Ameno-hohi-mikoto (59B) 天穂日命
From Merged Shrines
Sakaiebisu Jinja 堺戎神社
Yakuso Jinja 薬祖神社
Inari Jinja 稲荷神社
A drawing of the layout of the apparently expanded shrine grounds from that year shows in addition to the usual Shinto main and prayer halls Buddhist structures, including halls dedicated to Brahma (Daibobten, 大梵天), and Kannon (Avalokiteshvara, 観音堂). Another interesting building shown is the Renga Place (Linked Japanese Poetry, 連歌所). These are usually halls where renga extolling the virtues of the enshrined deity are recited; they are more common in temples than in shrines, but several Tenman-Gū and Tenjin-sha, including the current one, had such facilities.
In 1614 the shrine was again burnt down, but this time by the hand of man, not nature. The hand belonged to a Toyotomi military commander by the name of Ōno Dōke(大野道犬), who, fearful that Sakai would fall under Tokugawa dominance, torched the entire town, including the shrine. This was followed by the Seige of Ōsaka, which saw the Tokugawa defeat the Toyotomi and in due course emerge as rulers of the entire nation.
To commemorate the 750th anniversary of Sugiwara Michizane’s passing in 1652, reconstruction of the shrine was started and was completed the following year. The “Grand Map of Sakai in 1689” (元禄二年堺大絵図) is a detailed map of Sakai. The land to the north of the main road running east-west through the city has Tenjin-sha as its tutelary jinja, the land to the south Aguchi Jinja (the subject of my next note). The Toyotomi administration had given the shrine trading licenses and other benefits worth some 220 koku per year and the Tokugawa administration continued this.
Come the Meiji Restoration and Shinbutsu-bunri (Separation of Shintō and Buddhism,神仏分離), the Buddhist elements, Daibobten etc., were abolished from Tenjin-Sha and its name changed to Sugawara Jinja. This was in 1872. In December 1906 the government enacted its Shrine Merger Order and in the following two years five nearby shrines were merged into Sugawara Jinja. Sakai was the target of five bombing raids in 1945. The worst of these, on July 10, claimed 1,860 lives and about 70,000 victims. Almost needless to say, the shrine itself was again destroyed, and it was 1963 before reconstruction was complete.
There are two "nade-ushi" (撫で牛, lit. "caress cow/bull) in the shrine grounds, although in this case they are described using the more formal “ jingyū” (神牛, lit. “heavenly horse.) Note that the one with its head facing up is made of marble, the other of granite