日本語 | English

■ Featuring "Essays," May 31 to June 29







Atom_feed
Kanayago Shrine
Enshrines the Kanayago-gami in Shimane
Date:28, Jan, 2019
Investigated and Written by Misaka Youhei
About our introductory articles


Hello, everyone. I'm so glad seeing you here with me now. Today I'm talking about the Kanayago Shrine in Yasugi-shi, Shimane. Have you ever heard the shrine? It enshrines a diety Kanayago-gami worshipped by all blacksmiths and steel makers in Japan. We don't get the sex of the diety. It's said that we have over 1,000 shrines which enshrine the diety all over Japan, and the Kanayago Shrine is a head of them.


Kanayago-gami is not so popular in Japan, I guess. Most of Japanese people don't know the diety. First of all, steel-making is not so popular in Japan today. I believe what makes steel is almost unpopular among the teenage people of Japan. Do you know?

In those old days, they used to produce steel by Tatara. The steel-producing communities with Tatara were called "Tatara-ba." Today we are difficult finding Tatara-ba, because lately popular is the Western steel production style. Since the Meiji era, the imported style has been popular. We have the only Tatara-ba in Japan now, it can be found in Shimane.


What's Tatara-ba?

Have you ever watched a 1997 animation film the Princess Mononoke directed by Miyazaki Hayao? The stage is a steel-making community called Tatara-ba. A cowherd Koroku says that they heat iron sand and produce steel in the film. If you have never seen, I'd like you to watch it once somehow. By watching the animated film, you can almost get what Tatara-ba is.


Why do they have to worship Kanayago-gami? you might ask. I have never been a blacksmith and don't know the definite reason. In any fields, however, we can feel something supernatural on each labor. Being engaged in farming, they must feel a diety of farming. Being engaged in fishing, they must have felt the supernatural of the ocean. Most of Japanese people can get what I say, I think.

In spring and fall when they will hold a festival at the Kanayago Shrine, smiths in Tatara-ba all run to the shrine with bare feet. Why? Difficult to find a logical reason. My personal opinion says it is a kind of confirmation. What are they confirming? They are doubtlessly at the edge of their long history with Tatara. They confirm the historical fact by themselves with physicality and thank to the diety at the festival. That's just my personal opinion but I guess such a rite is so important for communities. How do you feel?



※All Photos by courtesy of Yasugi-shi Kanko Kyokai





 

Ohmiwa Shrine
The Oldest Shrine in Japan (Perhaps)