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13-Takeuchisha Shrine 武内社

Enshrined kami:
Takeuchi Sukune
Main Annual Rite:
21st April

Takeuchi Sukune is a legendary figure in Japanese history who is said to have lived from AD 84 to 367 (some records state that he lived for as many as 360 years) and is thus famous for his longevity as well as for his loyalty. People still revere this shrine today and pray for their own good health and longevity. The shrine’s building is designated as a nationally important cultural property.

This small shrine is covered in paintings and sculptures. On three sides are painted pine trees. The pine tree is green all year around and is therefore considered a symbol of long life. You will notice that there is always an odd number of pine branches painted here, since odd numbers are considered to be propitious in the East.

On either of the sides of the shrine there are large sculptures, both of sages. On the left is a sage under a banana tree, with a crane, one of the symbols of long life (for a thousand years). On the right of the shrine is another sage, this time on a turtle, again a symbol of long life (ten thousand years).

There is a carving of a peony, the king of flowers on the right-hand side of the shrine (and therefore not visible), a crane with pine branches at the front of the shrine, a squirrel with biwa fruit above the doors to the shrine building, and a squirrel with grapes to the left of the shrine, both of which symbolize a good harvest. The squirrel and grape combination is believed to have been transmitted down along the Silk Road from the West.

Under the eaves, on either side of the front of the shrine are large carvings of leaves. These are the leaves of the paulownia tree, in which Fenghuang (the Chinese Phoenix) are said to reside. The phoenix is a sacred bird.  

 

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