Anashinimasu-Hyozu-jinja Shrine (穴師坐兵主神社)

Anashinimasu-Hyozu-jinja Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Sakurai City, Nara Prefecture. It is a shikinai-sha (a shrine listed in the Engishiki [an ancient book of laws and regulations compiled during the Engi era listing shrines]), and designated a prefectural shrine according to the old shrine ranking system.

It is comprised of Anashinimasu-Hyozu-jinja Shrine (Myojin-taisha Shrine [shrine enshrining deities under the ritsuryo system]), Makimukunimasu-Wakamitama-jinja Shrine (Shikinai-taisha Shrine [first-ranked shrine listed in Engishiki laws]) and Anashi-Daihyozu-jinja Shrine (Shikinai-taisha Shrine) which were merged during the Muromachi period to form the current Anashinimasu-Hyozu-jinja Shrine. The site where the shrine now stands was that of Anashi-Daihyozu-jinja Shrine.

There is a theory that the original Anashinimasu-Hyozu-jinja Shrine was founded by Yamatohime-no-mikoto in the year 28 BC enshrining a guardian deity of food presented to the emperor. Another theory suggests that it was founded by the Emperor Keiko for worshiping Yachihoko-no-kami (other name of Okuninushi [chief god of Izumo in southern Honshu Island, Japan]) under the name Hyozu-no-okami.
The old shrine is believed to have been at 'Mt. Yutsukigatake.'
There are three theories that 'Mt. Yutsukigatake' refers to one of Mt. Ryuo, Mt. Anashi or Mt. Makimuku. Hyozu-no-kami,' the enshrined deity of the old Anashinimasu-Hyozu-jinja Shrine is now enshrined in the central hall of the current Anashinimasu-Hyozu-jinja Shrine, and the shintai (object of worship housed in a Shinto shrine and believed to contain the spirit of a deity) is a mirror. The current Anashinimasu-Hyozu-jinja Shrine maintains that Hyozu-no-kami is Miketsukami (god of food). However, there are other theories that Hyozu-no-kami is another deity such as Amenouzume, Susano (deity in Japanese mythology), Amanotomimuchi-no-mikoto, Takeminakata-no-kami, Izuhoko-no-mikoto (the spiritual emanation of Okuninushi), or Kunitama.

Kushinadahime is identified with 'Wakamitama-no-kami,' the enshrined deity of Makimukunimasu-Wakamitama-jinja Shrine. It is now enshrined in the right hall of the current Anashinimasu-Hyozu-jinja Shrine, and the shintai is a magadama (a comma-shaped bead) and a bell. The shrine was originally located at Mt. Makimuku. There is another theory advocating that Wakamitama-no-kami indicates Wakumusubi.

According to "Shosoin Monjo" (document collection of the Nara period kept in Shosoin), the above-mentioned two shrines held a festival to honor deities in 730, and were conferred the divine rank of Junior Fifth Rank in 859.

It is uncertain when Anashi-Daihyozu-jinja Shrine was founded. Daihyozu-no-kami,' the enshrined deity of Anashi-Daihyozu-jinja Shrine is now enshrined in the left hall of the current Anashinimasu-Hyozu-jinja Shrine, and the shintai is a sword. As for the question of which deity is enshrined as Daihyozu-no-kami, Yachihoko-no-kami Okuninushi), Susano-no-mikoto, Ame-no-uzume (one of the female gods in Japanese mythology) and Amenohiboko-no-mikoto are regarded as the most likely candidates.

From around the Medieval period, Anashinimasu-Hyozu-jinja Shrine was called Anashi-kamisha Shrine (literally, upper Anashi-jinja Shrine), while Anashi-Daihyozu-jinja Shrine was called Anashi-shimosha Shrine (literally, lower Anashi-jinja Shrine). After Makimukunimasu-Wakamitama-jinja Shrine and Anashi-kamisha Shrine were burned down in the Onin War, these two shrines were merged with Anashi-shimosha Shrine (Anashi-Daihyozu-jinja Shrine). Designated as a village shrine in 1873, Anashinimasu-Hyozu-jinja Shrine was promoted to a prefectural shrine in 1928.

Sumo-jinja Shrine enshrining NOMI no Sukune, who is believed to be the Soshin (ancestor honored as god) of sumo wrestling, is an auxiliary shrine.

[Original Japanese]