Atsuta shrine (熱田神宮)
Atsuta shrine, familiarly known as Venerable Atsuta (Atsuta Sama), has
been one of the greatest centres of worship from ancient times. Visitors
to the shrine, including those who practice the conventional New Year
visit (hatsumode), now count nine million annually.
The enshrined deity is Amaterasu Omikami. The tradition says that this
god manifested for the first time the way of gods to this world and
blessed mankind with the virtue of love. According to the legend the
sacred sword named Kusanagi no tsurugi has been kept in the shrine. In
historical times, the emperor possessed a real sword with the name
Kusanagi. However, in 688 it was removed from the palace to Atsuta
shrine after the sword was blamed for causing Emperor Temmu to fall ill.
Along with the jewel and the mirror, it is one of the three imperial
regalia of Japan.
It is recorded that during the Edo period, a Shinto priest claimed to
have seen the sword. According to him, the sword was about 84cm long,
shaped like calamus, in white metallic colour, and well maintained.
Another record claims that this priest died from the curse.
Atsuta shrine was founded about 1900 years ago. It has been ranked by
people second to the Great shrine of Ise. They call the shrine by the
familiar name of miya (shrine). Moreover, the geographical character of
the fertile Owari plain has fostered a faith in Atsuta shrine as
protector of agriculture. Many of the festivals and divine services of
the shrine show close connection with popular life around agricultural
In 1893 the shrine was remodelled into shinmei zukuri structure, the
same style of building as Ise shrine. On the occasion of celebration in
1935 the shrine buildings as well as other facilities were completely
rearranged and improved so that it came to assume the grandeur true to
the Great shrine of Atsuta.