Two headed monster-Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine-Takayama-Gifu Province

Torii Gate to Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine, Takayama,Gifu Province.Japan

Torii Gate to Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine, Takayama,Gifu Province.Japan

Torii gate – old Takayama town

Walking down the  street in old Takayama town, we passed through the Torii (gate) Hie-jinja, up a few flights of steps to reach the  entrance gate to the Shinto Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine at the top of the hill. The shrine sits against a background of dark green forest trees. Takayama  is a large timber producing and distribution center in the Gifu Province.

Legend of the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine

The origins of the shrine date back to the time of Emperor Nintoku (413-439) when according to legend, a monster with two heads, four arms and four legs controlled  Hida. Emperor Nintoku sent Prince Takefurukuma-no-mikoto from the Imperial Court to subjugate the monster known as Ryoumen Sukuna. The Prince enshrined his father, Emperor Ojin, as the  sanctuary deity, and prayed for the success of his mission before undertaking the onerous task presented to him by the Emperor.

Entrance Gate to Sakurayama Hachiman shrine,Takayama Gifu Province

Entrance Gate to Sakurayama Hachiman shrine,Takayama Gifu Province

‘Komainu’ or ‘Lion Dogs’

The Sakurayama Hachiman shrine has a pair of stone ‘Komainu’ or ‘lion dogs’ guarding the entrance to the inner shrine. The ‘lion dogs’ date from the Edo period (1603-1868) and can be found guarding the entrance to many Japanese Shinto Shrines. Notice how beautifully the dark grey tiled roof, the soft grey marbling of the lion dogs, stone walls, stairs, lanterns and leafless trees enhance the warm timber tones of the Shrine.

Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine, Takayama, Gifu Province, Japan

Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine, Takayama, Gifu Province, Japan

Shrine established for protection of Takayama Castle town under Lord Kanamori

In 1683, the shine was rebuilt/enlarged under the patronage of Lord Kanamori. The Shrine officially established for protection of the northern half of old Takayama Castle town. The Kanamori family built a castle and merchant district and ruled for 107 years. Lord Kanamori encouraged  traditional arts and crafts such as lacquer-ware, woodwork, pottery and the Japanese tea ceremony. The arts and crafts flourished under the Kanamori  patronage. Their rule ended when the Tokugawa Shogunate relocated the Kanamori Clan to the Tohoku region. The site of Takayama castle (destroyed in 1695) now a designated prefectural historical landmark is the area now known as Shiroyama Park.

Burnished timber  entrance Door to interior of Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine

Burnished timber entrance Door to interior of Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine

Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine 

It is a beautiful old shrine with huge timber beams burnished to a  soft copper-like sheen, highlighted by gold decoration. The timber entrance doors leading to the interior of Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine  bear the emblem  of the Kanamori clan. Behind these doors lie a quiet peaceful retreat. The carpentry skills of the Takayama craftsmen once again in evidence at this shrine.

Today the Sakurayama Hachiman shrine has over 1,500,000 visitors annually.

Kanji sign Sakuraymaa Hachimangu Shrine, Takayama, Gifu Province

Kanji sign Sakuraymaa Hachimangu Shrine, Takayama, Gifu Province

Hachiman temple district walking course

The Hachiman temple district has a 3-5 km walking course. Along this course there are 13 temples, five shrines and a hilltop park. If you enjoy walking in a quite tranquil forest, this is for you.

Farmers Market and Sanno-machi Historic District

Tomorrow we visit the Farmers Market along the river bank and will have more time to look at traditional buildings in the  Sanno-machi Historic District. The atmosphere and ambiance of the traditional houses and streets, the soft green of the timber forest surrounding Takayama, seem to grow on one in this delightful city in the Gifu Province of Japan.

 


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