Seoritsu-hime (瀬織津姫)

Seoritsu hime is a shrine of Haraedo no okami (gods of purification in Shinto religion). Seoritsu-hime is written as 瀬織津姫, 瀬織津媛, and 瀬織津比売.

She is the god of purification as well as the god of water and rain, and plays the role of washing impurities down rivers and the sea.

According to "Yamato-hime no mikoto seiki" (one of the "Shito Gobusho" (five-volume apologia of Shinto religion)), Seoritsu-hime is another name for Yasomagatsuhi no kami, and it is recorded that Seoritsu-hime is the enshrined deity in Aramatsuri no miya Shrine of the associated shrine of the Inner Shrine of Ise-jingu Shrine. Atsutane HIRATA, a scholar of Japanese classical literature and a Shintoist who lived in the Edo period, stated that Seoritsu hime is also the same god as Omagatsuhi no kami and Oyabiko no kami. Seoritsu-hime is sometimes regarded as Aramitama (fierce and valiant divine spirit) of Amaterasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess). Hirota-jinja Shrine in Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture, which is the taisha (grand shrine) from which the geographical name Nishinomiya was derived, regards Amaterasu Omikami Aramitama as its main enshrined deity; but the written guarantee of origin in prewar times clearly indicated Seoritsu-hime as the main enshrined deity.

In the Hashihime-jinja Shrine in Uji City, Seoritsu-hime is syncretized with (regarded as the same as) Hashi-hime (the protective deity of the bridge).

In Hotsumatsutae (an ancient record of Japan), Seoritsu-hime appears as a legal wife of Amaterasu Omikami, who is a male god. While it seems that Seoritsu-hime was purposely deleted in the "Kiki" (refers to the "Kojiki" (Records of Ancient Matters) and "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan)) and other documents that follow, her name was clearly indicated in the norito (Shinto ritual prayer, congratulatory address) for oharae (the great purification); as such, Seoritsu-hime has long been a mysterious god among people involved in Shinto religion. It is also considered that the recognition of Amaterasu Omikami as a female god is actually the result of Seoritsu-hime being deleted and its syncretization with Amaterasu Omikami. According to the description of Hotsuma (or Hotsumatsutae), a theory can be established that when Shinto shrines of the same scale are placed in parallel with one another such as in the cases of Takihara no miya Shrine in Mie Prefecture, and Hinokuma-jingu Shrine and Kunikakasu-jingu Shrine in Wakayama Prefecture, the purpose may actually be to worship Amaterasu Omikami and Seoritsu-hime.

During the imperial reign of FUJIWARA no Fuhito, or Emperor Jito, change in shake (family of Shinto priests serving a shrine on a hereditary basis) suddenly took place at Ise-jingu Shrine. Originally, Watarai clan served in both the Inner Shrine and Outer Shrine of Ise-jingu Shrine, but Arakida clan of the Nakatomi lineage of Fujiwara clan became new shake for the Inner Shrine, and as the result, Watarai clan became the shake for the Outer Shrine only. What can be assumed here is the possibility that the deity enshrined in the Inner Shrine of Ise was changed. In the Ise Shinto, or a school of Shinto thought established by Watarai clan who were the Shinto priests for the Outer Shrine and were prosperous during the Kamakura period, it became clear that Seoritsu-hime was the god of the Aramatsuri-no-miya Shrine of the Inner Shrine. According to the majority of the traditional theories, it is viewed that Ise Shinto was created as the result of Watarai clan, who sought private interests, asserting that the status of the deity enshrined in the Outer Shrine was above that of the Inner Shrine. However, if this viewpoint were true, then the intention of Watarai clan asserting that Aramitama of Amaterasu Omikami, the deity enshrined in the Aramatsuri-no-miya Shrine of the Inner Shrine, is Seoritsu-hime, becomes completely unexplainable. As such, an assumption can be established that an attempt was made to correct the change in the enshrined deity in Aramatsuri-no-miya Shrine since the Fujiwara lineage replaced the Watarai clan, who originally served in the religious services of the Inner Shrine as well. That the enshrined deity was changed, and that the shrine visit by successive emperors was virtually prohibited, occurring simultaneously suggests that the two events are greatly related. Since, before these two events, there is the possibility of Seoritsu-hime being worshiped together in shrines where Amaterasu Omikami was worshiped, not only in the Inner Shrine of Ise-jingu-Shrine but across the country, it can be assumed that someone of the Fujiwara lineage perhaps deleted Seoritsu-hime as a deity to be enshrined from shrines nationwide. It can also be considered that shikinai-sha (shrine listed in Engishiki (an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers)) was established in order to manage the deletion of Seoritsu-hime.

Furthermore, according to the lineage of gods, Amaterasu Omikami, the 8th generation of celestial gods and the mikogami (the child god in a shrine where parent-child gods are enshrined) of Izanagi and Izanami, the 7th generations of celestial gods, is widely recognized as a female god today. Seoritsu-hime's gender is completely unclear in Kojiki; Nihonshoki contains a single part mentioning her as a female god. While the 9th generation male god of celestial gods, Oshihomimi no mikoto, and the gods following him are clarified along with the names of empresses, it seems that the reference to the spouse of Amaterasu Omikami was intentionally concealed in the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters) and the Nihonshoki (Chronicles of Japan).

In Inaba in the eastern part of Tottori Prefecture, there is the tradition of Imperial visits by Amaterasu Omikami, and the area has a legend that Hakuto-shin (White Rabbit Deity) bit the hem of the dress of Amaterasu Omikami to lead him to a land suitable for angu (temporary lodging built to accommodate an Imperial visit); at the same time, this area has the greatest density of shrines for worshipping Seoritsu-hime according to the national statistics of national distribution of shrines. In this area, it is gradually becoming clear that the shrines for worshipping Amaterasu Omikami and the relevant land, and the shrines for worshipping Seoritsu-hime are intentionally located in relation to one another. In other words, it is highly possible that in this area, Amaterasu Omikami and Seoritsu-hime were regarded as a pair of gods, combined with the tradition of Mikoiwa Stone on which Amaterasu Omikami placed his headdress.

From around 2006, Seoritsu-hime suddenly began to attract much attention. Scholars such as Nobuaki KIKUCHI and Haruo YAMAMIZU, a musician, are actively working on the research of Seoritsu-hime.

Shrines in which Seoritsu-hime is the enshrined deity
Seoritsuhime-jinja Shrine (Kanazawa City)
Shimogamo-jinja Inoue-sha Shrine (Kyoto City)
Hashihime-jinja Shrine (Uji City)

Other than the above, Seoritsu-hime is worshipped in shrines of approximately five hundred places nationwide.

[Original Japanese]