Sonokarakami-no-yashiro Shrine (園韓神社)

Sonokarakami-no-yashiro Shrine is a generic name for Sono-jinja Shrine (also pronounced Sonokami-no-yashiro Shrine) and Kara-jinja Shrine (also pronounced Karakami-no-yashiro Shrine). Sono-jinja Shrine and Kara-jinja Shrine once stood within the imperial palace of the Imperial Household Department in the city of Heian-kyo.

These shrines are thought to have been constructed by the Fujiwara clan between the years 717 and 724 and stood on the site since before the relocation of the capital city to Heian-kyo. "Shinsho kyakuchoku fusho" states that in the year 765, Sono-jinja Shrine and Kara-jinja Shrine had 20 and 10 allotted households respectively in Sanuki Province. According to "Kojidan" (a collection of tales compiled between 1212 and 1215 by MINAMOTO no Akikane) and "Koke Shidai" (compiled by OE no Masafusa and one of the most valuable historical sources of detailed information about state ceremonial and public functions in the eleventh century), when an attempt was made to move the shrines during the relocation of the capital city to Heian-kyo in the year 794, a divine message was received stating that 'The kami should continuously be enshrined here to safeguard the emperor' so the shrines were kept in place and situated within the Imperial Household Department to guard the Imperial Family. However, the legend of Kango-jinja Shrine in Nara states that Sono-jinja Shrine and Kara-jinja Shrine were founded when the deity of Kango-jinja Shrine was transferred to the Imperial Household Department on March 9, 859.

The 'Engishiki Jinmyocho' (register of shrines and deities within a book of regulations of the Engi era) records one Sono-jinja Shrine deity and two Kara-jinja Shrine deities as 'the three deities enshrined in the Imperial Household Department' and ranks both shrines as Myojin Taisha.

Various theories exist with regard to the deities enshrined at the shrines. "Kojikiden" (A Commentary of Kojiki) puts forth the theory that Otoshi no kami's offspring deity 'Sohori no kami' as recorded in "Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters) is enshrined within either Sono-jinja Shrine or Kara-jinja Shrine. In addition, the word 'Karakami' (the two deities traditionally enshrined at the Imperial Household Department) appears in the description of the offspring deity of Otoshi no kami in "Kojiki." "Oyamato Jinja Chushinjo" (records of shrines in ancient Japan) reports the enshrined deities to be Omononushi and the two Karakami deities Okuninushi and Sukunabikona (these are the three deities enshrined at Kango-jinja Shrine). However, there are claims that Oyamato Jinja Chushinjo is a forgery.

These shrines are believed to have held their annual festivals, called "Sonokarakami no Matsuri," on the day of the Ox following the February Kasuga-sai Festival and on the day before the November Niiname-sai (Harvest Festival).

The Sonokarakami no Matsuri Festivals gradually came to an end with the decline of the imperial court after the Heian period. According to "Yasutomi-Ki" (the diary of Yasutomi NAKAHARA), these shrines were blown down by strong wind on March 10, 1419. Neither Sono-jinja Shrine nor Kara-jinja Shrine exist in modern Kyoto. The small shrine enshrining Tamahime Daimyojin in Nijo Park, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City is the last trace of Sono-jinja Shrine or Kara-jinja Shrine. One theory claims that the deities were transferred to Tokyo during the relocation of the capital city to Tokyo in first year of the Meiji era and that they are currently enshrined with the deities of the Hasshinden (The Hall of Eight Deities) and with other imperial guardian gods within the sanctuaries of the Kyuchu Sanden (three shrines in the Imperial Palace).

[Original Japanese]