The Salad Bowl. Vol. V, No. 9. Oct. 1997. Historic Sites in Shizuoka.


Photo of Yagumo Shrine in Feb. 1999 (by T. Newfields) According to local legend, in 1751 a fisherman named Kodaira was casting his nets upon the waters near Seikenji Temple in the Suruga Bay. There he found a mysterious log with the image of a deity floating in the water. The deity was reputed to be a manifestation of Tenno-yashiro, a god associated with the Japanese emperor. The fisherman brought this wooden object to the banks of the Tomoe River and built a shrine for it. In this way, the Tenno-yashiro shrine began.

In 1784 a powerful typhoon hit Shizuoka and much of the area along the Tomoe River became inundated. To save the shrine, Kodaira's family transferred the wooden image to the safety of their house.

In 1803 this deity was moved again to a shrine located a few kilometers upriver to Kami-Shimizu. Unfortunately, when a major earthquake rocked central Japan in 1858, the alluvial muds liquefied and many buildings were buried in silt. This shrine suffered the same fate as most structures in the neighborhood.

In 1863 this shrine became dedicated to the deity Hachiman. A possible reason for this shift was that the shogunate did not wish to support the rising tide of sympathy for the imperial house. Whereas Tenno-yashiro was directly associated with the emperor, Hachiman was a deity associated with the Fujiwara family, from which the shogun's family sprang.

In 1908 and 1941 this shrine was progressively expanded. During this period the shrine also became associated with Susono, brother of the sun goddess and a protector of the imperial family. As politics shift, it appears that so do the deities worshipped. The current main hall was constructed in 1943 and in the same year a shrine to Yaku-byou, a god reputed to ward off epidemics, was built. Within the shrine precincts, prayer tablets to the "god that comes out of the clouds" (Izumo-yashiro), the "fox-god that protects holes" (Anamori Inari), and god of the sea (Konpira) are featured.

Today Yagumo Shrine rests quietly, just north of the Yorozubashi Bridge and south of the central love hotel cluster around Shimizu. As the primary shrine for the Kami 1-chome section of Shimizu, festivals are held here each year in early August.

- Tim Newfields

Copyright (c) 1997 by Tim Newfields & the Shizuoka City International Association
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