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4-Hata-age Benzaiten Shrine 旗上弁財天社

Hata-ageBenzaitenShrine.jpg

Enshrined kami:
Ichikishima-hime
Main Annual Rite:
the first day of the snake in April

This shrine was re-built on the isle on the east side of the Genpei-ike ponds in 1980 based upon on the old design drawing dating from the Bunsei period (1818-1829).

Many people offer prayers written on a white flag with two black lines. This flag was the flag that the warriors of Yoritomo’s army took into battle in 1180, identifying them as being members of Yoritomo’s army. Yoritomo used this banner because his ancestor had used it when he suppressed the 1051 rebellion in North-East Japan. The white banners are offered here to this day since Yoritomo offered a white banner here to pray for victory before the successful battle of 1180.

Before the Meiji period (1868 to 1912) separation of Buddhism and Shinto, Benzaiten was considered both a Shinto kami and a Buddhist deity, identified with water and with prosperity as one of the seven gods of prosperity. Benzaiten shrines are as a result normally associated with water and are often built in ponds.

The original building was removed in the Meiji period, replaced in 1956, and rebuilt in its current form, based on old documents, in 1980 to commemorate the 800th anniversary of its founding. The building is lacquered in red, and you will see a carving of the Benzaiten kami above the red-lacquered stairs playing a biwa lute, and a carving above the doors of the shrine building of a Japanese sho, a musical instrument made of bamboo pipes. 

Many kami have animals associated with them. The Benzaiten’s sacred messenger is the snake, hence the most important festival is held on the first day of the Snake. If you visit the shrine on the day of the Snake, you may see eggs offered in front of the shrine, since the egg is a favourite food of the snake.

← 3-Genpei-ike Pond 源平池 ← The Map 5-Peony Garden 神苑ぼたん庭園 →

 

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