"Tastes of JAPAN by ANA" is a regional vitalization project that collaborates with the different prefectures in Japan to present the Land of the Rising Sun in all of its diverse glory.
Tsuno Shrine in Tsuno-cho, Koyu-gun, Miyazaki enshrines the deity Onamuchi no Mikoto. Many visitors to the shrine come to receive blessed amulets and stamps.
Onamuchi no Mikoto is another name for Okuninushi no Mikoto, the central deity of Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine. This deity is said to bestow a variety of blessings, such as luck in marriage, prosperity in business, and recovery from illness.
Large festivals held every year include the Summer Festival of Hyuga Province Ichinomiya Tsuno Shrine, which is also called the "Hamakudari Ritual," and an annual winter festival that features performances of Tsuno Kagura.
The Guardian Deity of Tsuno, Onamuchi no Mikoto
Enshrined deity: Onamuchi no Mikoto
Alternative name: Okuninushi no Mikoto
The summer festival of Tsuno Shrine is held on August 1 and 2 every year. Records from 1832 remain linking the festival from a Shinto ritual called “Hamakudari Ritual.” The origin of the festival is said to be a historical event whereby the deity enshrined at Tsuno Shrine was invited onto the boat of the expedition of Empress Jingu (the mother goddess of the deity Hachiman) to Silla (present-day Korea). Another name for this festival is “Hamakudari Ritual.”
The “Hamakudari Ritual” is said to have started as a prayer for the safe return of Empress Jingu. In this ritual, local people carry small buckets and bamboo pipes to the beach. On their way there, they take bamboo leaves and purify their bodies with seawater. They then put seawater and pebbles into the small buckets and take them back. Upon their return, they lay out the bamboo leaves on the stone steps to the shrine and shrine fence, put the pebbles on the leaves and pour seawater over them. This custom had not been practiced since the end of World War II, but it was restarted in 2011.
The portable shrine carried at the summer festival was made in 1922 to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of being ranked a national shrine. It has since been repaired a few times. This portable shrine has passed down the reverence of the local people towards the gods for generation upon generation, and will soon be 100 years old. With the end of the Heisei era this year, the 187th summer festival has given way to all kinds of grand celebrations around the town.
The Tsuno Shrine Annual Winter Festival is a magnificent festival held in the midst of the solemn atmosphere of December 4 and 5. The annual winter festival is held once a year on a day related to the shrine’s deity or a day related to the shrine. A manager of the prefectural government branch office from Jinja Honcho currently serves as the envoy to make offerings during the festival. At the annual winter festival, the Tsuno Kagura Preservation Association gives performances of Tsuno Kagura on both days.
It is stated in the chronicle “The origin of Hyuga Takanabe Kagura” that the refined, elegant, and vigorous movements of Tsuno Kagura earned it an honorable award after being performed in front of the Imperial family at the Imperial Court in the Nara period.
The shrine is also putting effort into passing down the tradition of Tsuno Kagura and its long history to the next generation. Every year, right before the annual winter festival, the sounds of taiko drums and flutes reverberate throughout the usually quiet grounds of the shrine. Children are enthusiastically encouraged by those older than them, helping them to grow into future kagura performers. The shrine is making steady progress in passing down the tradition to the next generation, and the laughter and smiles from excited children fill the shrine with joy.