Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu Shrine 石清水八幡宮
Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu was founded in 859 by the monk Gyokyo on the instructions of the Emperor Seiwa. Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu enshrines Hachiman, the God of War, associated with the mythical Emperor Ojin.
Ojin's legendary birthplace is Umi in Oita Prefecture where Umi Hachiman-gu is dedicated to him.
Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu was built for the protection of the Emperor in Kyoto and grew to be one of the most powerful shrines in the country.
Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu was reconstructed in 1634 by Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third Tokugawa shogun and is richly decorated. All the buildings in the shrine are designated as Important Cultural Properties.
The main shrine building appears to be two parallel buildings but is, in fact, one structure with two cedar bark gabled roofs. Under the eaves is a wooden rain gutter covered in gold, donated to the shrine by the warlord Oda Nobunaga.
This feature is typical of the style of shrine architecture known as hachiman-zukkuri.
Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu was long favored by emperors and high court officials. The shrine is also associated with the Minamoto clan, who were later to rule Japan during the Kamakura Period of Japanese history.
Until 1868 and the separation of Buddhism and Shinto by the Meiji government, the complex was actually a mix of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples known as "Iwashimizu Hachimangu-ji." Zenporitsuji Temple, a 13th century temple, south east of Otokoyama survived the destruction of temples related to the worship of Hachiman.
Thomas Edison Connection
Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu Shrine also has an interesting connection to the life and work of Thomas Edison, who used bamboo collected from the groves at the shrine by his assistant William H. Moore to make filaments for his first electric light bulb in 1880.
The toughness of the bamboo at Iwashimizu was able to last over 1,000 hours in Edison's first bulbs.
The inventor visited Japan in 1922 and both the founders of Japanese electronic giants NEC and Toshiba worked and studied at Edison's laboratory in California.
A stone memorial is dedicated to Edison in the grounds of the shrine and a Festival of Light is held annually on May 4th when 1000s of bamboo lanterns are lit in Edison's honor.
Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu Shrine's main festival is held on 15th September. During elaborate rituals fish are released into the shrine pond and the nearby Hojo River and young children perform a "butterfly dance" on the Angobashi Bridge.
Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu Shrine is located a 30 minute walk uphill on Otokoyama from Yawata Station on the Keihan Main Line from Osaka and Kyoto. There is a cable car (Otokoyama Cable Line) from in front of the station that takes three minutes and costs 200 yen.
Entrance is free.
30 Yawata-takabo, Yawata-shi, Kyoto, 614-8588
Tel: 075 981 3001