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Mother's Day Special

Eight Shrines with the Character for 'Mother' in Tarachine

One of the shrines with the character 'mother' in their names is Koromo Shrine in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture
One of the shrines with the character 'mother' in their names is
Koromo Shrine in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture

Hello! I’m Maruhanabachi, a housewife writer who tends to live a Mother’s Day life like “Huh? I’m a mother too?” every year.
This time, in honor of Mother's Day, I've received information about shrines that have the character of 'mother' in their names.

・Ige Shrine ... Kami City, Nankoku City, Tosa City, Kochi Prefecture etc. ・Utsu-mochi Shrine ... Fujisawa City, Kanagawa Prefecture ・Kamo Shrine ... Saijo City, Ehime Prefecture. ・Koromo Shrine ... Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. ・Naimo Shrine ... Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture. ・Nanbo Shrine ... Tondabayashi City, Osaka Prefecture. ・Mochio Shrine ... Miyakonojyo City, Miyazaki Prefecture, Nasushiobara City, Tochigi Prefecture, Machida City, Tokyo. ・Moribo Shrine ... Sue Town, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Surprisingly, there are quite a few!
However, it's not feasible for me to visit all of them.
Therefore, I've decided to deep dive online for this operation. Let us start “mission possible”.
Let's find out what kind of shrines each of them are.

Ige Shrine ... Kami City, Nankoku City, Tosa City, Kochi Prefecture etc.

The shrines with this name only exist in Kochi Prefecture, where they are affectionately referred to as "Oige-san."

Enshrined Deity:Uke Mochi No Kami
History:In Tosa no Kuni, there are many of these shrines which were built as alternatives to Inari shrines.

The enshrined deity, Uke Mochi No Kami, is the goddess from the myth of food origin, who produced food from her mouth to entertain Tsukiyomi-no-Mikoto (the moon god) who visited her. Offended by the impurity of her food production, Tsukiyomi-no-Mikoto killed her, and from her remains, cattle, horses, and grains sprouted.
"Uke" or "Uka" refers to food, and this goddess, along with other deities such as Toyouke-no-kami and Uka-no-mitama-no-kami, is responsible for the abundance of food and grains.
In some information, the enshrined deity is referred to as Nakisawame-no-Mikoto, the goddess of tears.
The website of Kokugakuin University describes this as a nature god of spring water that was incorporated into Shinto. This is also a deity related to agriculture.

In Tosa no Kuni, for some reason, instead of Inari shrines worshipping Uka-no-Mitama-no-kami, shrines were built to enshrine Uke Mochi No Kami, another food deity. This resulted in the establishment of the Ige Shrine.
Although I couldn't find more information this time, it seems like a fascinating topic to deep dive.

  • The precincts of Koromo Shrine, surrounded by fresh greenery
    The precincts of Koromo Shrine, surrounded by fresh greenery
  • The sacred camphor tree. Its height is an impressive 25m!
    The sacred camphor tree. Its height is an impressive 25m!

Utsu-mochi Shrine... Fujisawa City, Kanagawa Prefecture

Foundation:459 AD (during the reign of Emperor Yūryaku)
Deities enshrined:Amaterasu Omikami
Wakumusubi (the mother deity of Toyouke-no-kami)
Wakakusakabe no Mikoto (the consort of Emperor Yūryaku, who is said to have encouraged sericulture)
History:A shrine with a long history, which is also described in the "Engishiki Jinm

yōchō" (Engishiki Records of Deities) from the year 927 AD.
The Engishiki is a code of laws and regulations compiled during the Heian period.
It strictly regulates the management and detailed rituals of shrines, the organization and number of shrine priests, and serves as a valuable resource for understanding the state of shrine management at the time.
The "Engishiki Jinmyōchō" describes it as "one of the six shrines in KouzaGun among thirteen shrines in Sagami Province, Utsu-mochi Shrine".
The notation in Manyogana (a phonetic syllabary used in the Man'yōshū anthology), testifies to its ancient history.

Kamo Shrine (Saijo City, Ehime Prefecture)

Foundation:1782 (2nd year of Tenmei era)
Deities enshrined:Ukanomitama, Uke-mochi, Wakumusubi, Takenouchi Ryuzaemon
History:The shrine was founded as a local deity of the Teizui region, which was developed as an agricultural area of the Saijo domain.
One of the deities enshrined, Takenouchi Ryuzaemon, was a person who made significant contributions by carrying out land reclamation in this region.

"Standing on the robust bank of the Kamo River, you can see that the shrine is crowded with many people as a starting point on the day of the Saijo Festival.

There is a spring water source that was selected as the 'most delicious water' at the National Water Tasting Contest, and it is known as a famous water source so good that it is also referred to as 'the water of God'" (from the Ehime Prefecture Tourism Information Site, Iyokan Net)
This is a shrine that is the very history of the local area itself, enshrining food gods and a local contributor together in the developed land.
The "mother" in this case may be a replacement for the place name "Kamo".
The most delicious water in Japan is also called sacred water! I'd love to try it at least once.

  • A stone monument at Koromo Shrine documenting the damage caused by the Ise Bay Typhoon.
    A stone monument at Koromo Shrine documenting the damage caused by the Ise Bay Typhoon.
  • The worship hall, where Kagura and Miko dances are performed.
    The worship hall, where Kagura and Miko dances are performed.

Koromo Shrine (Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture)

Founded:In the fifth year of Bunji era (1189)
Deities:Takamimusubi no Kami (second deity to appear at the time of the creation of heaven and earth)
Ninigi-no-Mikoto (the first emperor who descended from heaven)
Takuhatachijihime no Mikoto (Ninigi-no-Mikoto's mother goddess)
Ame-no-Mikumari-no-Kami (a god of agriculture, with "Mikumari" meaning "water distributor")
Kuni-no-Mikumari-no-Kami (a god of agriculture, partner to Ame-no-Mikumari)
History:The shrine was founded by Suzuki Shigenobu, a former vassal of Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who had settled in Mikawa Province. He enshrined Komori Myojin, which he had brought from Yoshino in Yamato Province.

It's easy to understand the enshrinement of Ninigi-no-Mikoto and his mother, but why would an agriculture god be a Komori Myojin (Child Guard Deity)? It seems that the term "Mikumari" transformed into "Mikomori," which then became "Komori" (child guard), thus becoming Komori Myojin. Perhaps the concept of "bearing fruit" associated with the agricultural deity was also incorporated.
This shrine is in my home prefecture of Aichi, so it's the only one I actually visited for this article. As expected of a shrine named ‘Komoromyojin’, there were several couples with babies making their first shrine visit.
The sight of them cradling tiny babies while they prayed made me smile unintentionally.

Naimo Shrine (Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture)

Founded:Unknown (it is said that records were lost due to the fires of war during the Sengoku period)
Deities:Omodaru no Kami (a god symbolizing a complete and flawless human body)
Kamowakeikazuchi no Kami (a god enshrined in Kamo Shrines nationwide, a child of the fire and thunder god)
Mizuha no Me no Kami (a goddess of water)
History:The history is unknown due to a lack of information online and the absence of an official website.

One site noted that the main deity, Omodaru no Kami, is the wife of a deity enshrined in Mie's Tado Taisha, but Omodaru no Kami is a male god.
It's possible the enshrined deity may have been changed at some point.
There are surely many other temples and shrines whose history has been lost due to wars.

Naimo Shrine holds an Ishitori Festival during its autumn festival.
In this celebration, festival floats are paraded to the beat of gongs and drums, and chestnut stones from the Tado River are offered at the shrine. However, the meaning behind this offering of chestnut stones is not clear. Seek for more information!
The Ishitori Festival held in Kuwana City in August, a festival of Kuwana Soja Shrine, is famous as the "noisiest festival in Japan," but the Ishitori Festival of Naimo Shrine appears to be a more local event.
These local festivals have their own unique charm, don't they?

Nanbo Shrine (Tondabayashi City, Osaka Prefecture)

Founded:Showa 16 (1941) -> Discontinued around Showa 50 (1975)
Deity:Hisako, wife of Kusunoki Masashige
History:The shrine was established to honor Hisako as a virtuous wife and wise mother who supported Kusunoki Masashige and his son.

After the death of the warrior Kusunoki Masashige during the Nanboku-cho period, when his decapitated head was delivered to his son, the son tried to kill himself. His mother, Hisako, stopped him, reminding him of his duties to the emperor and his filial piety to his father.
It is said that the shrine was established to comfort the bereaved families of soldiers during the Sino-Japanese War. Considering that the year of its foundation is the same as the start of the Pacific War, it's not surprising that it's often interpreted as a part of war propaganda, using the story of the virtuous wife and wise mother.
It's also not surprising that the shrine was discontinued after the war, as there was no one to succeed it.
However, it seems the shrine was cherished by local residents, as evidenced by the following report:

'Nanbo Shrine' of Yukari, the wife of Kusunoki Masashige, becomes a place of relaxation for residents in Tondabayashi, Osaka.
(Sankei News, 30 May 2018, 16:42)

Regardless of the reason for its establishment, people gather and make various memories there, ensuring its continuation in a different way from a traditional shrine. It's interesting to see such cases. I hope it will continue to be a happy and relaxing place for many families.

  • The Mikoshi shrine hall of Koromo Shrine. Located directly across from the main hall.
    The Mikoshi shrine hall of Koromo Shrine. Located directly across from the main hall.
  • Main hall. Actually, you can enter the area from the torii gate on the left.
    Main hall. Actually, you can enter the area from the torii gate on the left.

Mochio Shrine (Miyazaki Prefecture, Miyakonojo City; Tokyo, Machida City; Tochigi Prefecture, Nasu Shiobara City)

There are three Mochio Shrines across Japan. When I looked into them, I found the process of their establishment to be quite fascinating.

○Mochio Shrine in Miyakonojo City

Ootoshi-no-kami (The god of bountiful harvests, that represents the year-long process of crop growth and fruition)
This shrine was established in the middle of the Edo period to worship the Inari stone and a cave (an ancient relic) which were previously regarded as sacred.
In Meiji 3 (1870), a local leader named Mishima Michitsune visited and undertook the restoration of the dilapidated shrine.

○Mochio Shrine in Nasu Shiobara City

Mishima Michitsune
In Meiji 13 (1880), Mishima Michitsune established a farm in this area.

This shrine was established with a replica of the sacred object of Mochio Shrine in Miyakonojo City, Miyazaki Prefecture.
The person named Michitsune Mishima was a respected figure in this region who made significant contributions during the Meiji Restoration as a pioneer. After the start of the Meiji era, he vigorously promoted agricultural development and road construction.
He served as Tokyo Prefectural Government Official, Governor of Yamagata, Fukushima and Tochigi prefectures, local governor, and also as the Chief of Police. He was awarded the title of Viscount for his achievements.
Even today, his descendants are invited to the Shiobara Hot Spring Festival as benefactors of the region and participate in the shrine's annual festival.
Here is some news about it. He is truly respected by the people of this region... it's quite amazing.

Think of the great prefectural governor Annual festival of Mishima Shrine in Nasushiobara
(Sankei News, October 10, 2016)

○Mochio Shrine in Machida City, Tokyo

Taisho 8 (1919)
Both Kuroki Noboru and Kuroki Hana were inspired by the divine virtues of the Mochio Okami of Miyakonojo City, Miyazaki Prefecture and enshrined its divine spirit. At first, they enshrined it at their home, but strange things like the house shaking occurred, so they built a shrine and enshrined it there.

The name “Mochio” seems to be an ancient name written in Man’yōgana. It’s interesting to see how these three Mochioka shrines were established and how the number of shrines increased over time.

Moribo Shrine (Sue Town, Fukuoka Prefecture)

In the first year of Tensho era (1573)
Jisho Tengan Zeni
It enshrines a wet nurse who vowed to become the protector of children even after she lost her life defending her lord's child.

“A tragic story from the fall of Takatorii-jyo, which was built on the mountain of the town. As Jisho Tengan Zeni, the wet nurse, was fleeing with the child of Sugidanjou, they hid in the shadows of a rock. However, they were discovered and captured due to the child's crying. When she was beheaded, she swore that she would continue to protect the crying children of the world even after her own death. In memory of this, she is worshipped as the god of childcare and the god who stops night crying.”
(From Sue-cho, Fukuoka Prefecture's official website)

The "mother" of this shrine was the wet nurse who protected her lord's child.
In the old times, wet nurses were a special presence for nobles and warriors. They not only took care of the lord's child but also breastfed them, so love naturally arose for both the caretaker and the one being cared for.
Kasuga no Tsubone, who played an important role supporting Tokugawa Iemitsu's regime and was called "one of the three legs of the kettle," is famous.
The wet nurse who managed to vow at her last moment that she would continue to protect all the children in the world even after her death, was truly a mother, regardless of blood ties.
She teaches us what love is.
Perhaps this is why her story is still passed down and there are never-ending visitors to the shrine.

  • Komori Tenmangu at Komori Shrine
    Komori Tenmangu at Komori Shrine
  • The Inari deity here is also known as the Komori Inari.
    The Inari deity here is also known as the Komori Inari.

How was our Mother's Day feature?
The character for "mother" in Japanese not only refers to a birth mother but carries many other meanings.
It can also refer to women who act as mothers, older female relatives, and places to return to.
All of these, in a broader sense, can be considered as "mother".
Mother's Day is coming soon.
How about expressing your daily gratitude to the person who is "mother" to you once again?