Tsukubusuma-jinja Shrine (都久夫須麻神社)

Tsukubusuma-jinja Shrine is a Shinto shrine on Chikubushima Island in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture. It is also called Chikubujima-jinja Shrine. It is a Shikinai-sha (shrine listed in Engishiki laws) and a prefectural shrine in the old shrine ranking.

Until the Edo Period, Shinto and Buddhism were syncretized and so the shrine was unified with the adjoining Hogon-ji Temple.

The shrine tradition says that it started when shoshi (a small shrine) to enshrine Azaihime no mikoto was made in 420. "Omi no Kuni Fudoki" (records of the culture and geography of the Omi Province) says when Tatamihiko no mikoto of Ibuki no oka Mountain (Mt. Ibuki) competed with his niece Azaihime no mikoto of Azai dake Mountain (Kanakuso dake Mountain) for height, he lost and in anger cut off her head, which fell into the lake and became Chikubushima Island. It is also said that when her head sank it sounded 'Tsufu, tsufu' and so the island was named 'Tsufushitsu Island', or it was named 'Chikubushima Island' because the first grown plants there were bamboos (their Chinese character is read 'chiku').

In 724, Emperor Shomu had a dream of Amaterasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess) and got her message, 'There is a small island in Lake Biwa and as it is the holy place of Benzaiten, you must found a temple', so he sent Gyoki to Chikubushima Island as an Imperial envoy and had a temple built. Gyoki carved a statue of Benzaiten and made it the idol thereof. It is listed as a small shrine in Engishiki Jinmyocho (a list of shrines).

Beginning in the Medieval Period, Shinto and Buddhism advanced toward syncretization under the influence of Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple, and the shrine came to be called one of the 'Three major Benzaiten in Japan' with Benzaiten as its honji-butsu (original Buddhist divine). It is said to be the oldest Benzaiten in Japan or the birthplace of Benzaiten.

In the Meiji Period, the New Meiji Government issued the Ordinance Distinguishing Shinto and Buddhism. Based on this, the Otsu Prefectural Government ordered the abolition of Hogon-ji Temple, making it a shrine and naming it 'Tsukubusuma-jinja Shrine' as was in the list of Engishiki Jinmyocho. Strongly requested by worshippers across the nation, Hogon-ji Temple escaped abolition; this meant that the temple and the shrine coexisted. In 1874, the division between Tsukubusuma-jinja Shrine and Hogon-ji Temple was determined and in 1883, the properties of them were distinguished. Since then, Tsukubusuma-jinja Shrine and Hogon-ji Temple have been different corporations, however, the main building of Tsukubusuma-jinja Shrine and Kannon-do hall of Hogon-ji Temple are still directly connected by a corridor called Huna-roka, and so they cannot be separated.

The Enshrined Deities
Ichikishimahime (Benzaiten)
Azaihime no mikoto
Chikubushima Ryujin (Chikubushima Dragon God)

Cultural Properties
The main building, which was once in Fushimi-jo Castle built by Kanpaku (the chief advisor to the Emperor) Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI to welcome the then emperor and called 'Higurashi no goten' (Sunset Palace), was brought and rebuilt, and the inside of the building is decorated with paintings by Eitoku KANO and Mitsunobu KANO, and Kodai-ji makie (gold lacquer work). It is designated as a national treasure as a building that conveys the culture of the Azuchi-Momoyama period.

National Treasure
Honden (main hall)
All Hiwadabuki (roofs with the bark of hinoki, Japanese cypress), irimoya-zukuri (a hip-and-gable roof construction), kara hafu (undulating gable), the Azuchi-Momoyama period
Fusumae (images on fusuma sliding doors) and paintings on the ceilings by Eitoku KANO and Mitsunobu KANO inside

The worship hall of Jogyo-den is located in a beautiful spot facing Lake Biwa, and you can see Ryujin Haisho (place of prayer) on the cliff below. If you throw earthenware from here into the lake, your wish will be fulfilled by Ryujin, which is a custom called 'Kawara nage'.

Chikubushima festival
June 10 - 15
Sansha Benzaiten festival (a festival for Benzaiten from the three shrines - Chikubushima Shrine, Enoshima Shrine and Itsukushima Shrine)
June 10
Ryujin festival
June 14
Doji mukae ritual
August 6 - 7

25 minutes by Biwako Kisen from Nagahama port, which is a 10 minute-walk from JR Nagahama Station. 40 minutes by Biwako Kisen from Imazu port, which is a 5 minute-walk from JR Omi-Imazu Station. 35 minutes by Biwako Kisen or Omi Marine from Hikone port, which is 7 minutes by bus from JR Hikone Station. 40 minutes by Omi Marine from Iinoura port, which is 6 minutes by bus from JR Kinomoto Station.

[Original Japanese]