Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine, Sakamoto, Karasaki, Otsu
山王祭 滋賀県 日吉大社
During the 1,300 years old Sanno-sai Matsuri of the Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine agricultural deities (kami) are brought down from their mountain residence to the villages of Sakamoto and Karasaki to be entertained and to pray for a rich harvest. The two mikoshi carrying the ferocious spirit (aramitama) of the male kami join the two mikoshi carrying the peaceful spirit (nigimitami) of the female kami in the evening resting place (yoimiya) where is held the Yoimiya-otoshi ritual. It celebrates wildly the marriage of the kami when the local youths dressed only in loincloths repeatedly shake and swing back and forth in turn all four mikoshi. This symbolises the birth of the couple’s offspring (wakamiya).
The day after Yomiya-otoshi seven mikoshi are carried down to the shore of Lake Biwa where they are loaded onto the ceremoniously decorated barge. The four bamboo poles at the corners linked with straw rope sanctify the barge. A ritual dedication of offerings to the kami takes place on the lake when the mikoshi are floated from Sakamoto to Karasaki. According to old belief, a fisherman entertained the kami with a meal off the shore of Karasaki when the deity travelled from Mount Miwa by boat.
In Shinto theology, rough and peaceful are alternative aspects of the same spirit, and aramitama can be transformed into nigimitama by pacification and worship.
Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine
The Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine (also known as Hiei Shrine) is located on the south-west side of Lake Biwa at the foot of Mt Hiei. The shrine’s origin goes back to the period long before the introduction of Buddhism to Japan. The Buddhist Tendai sect's main temple (Enryakuji) on Mt Hiei is located to the northeast of the old imperial capital (Kyoto). According to Chinese geomantic views Kyoto was thought to be particularly vulnerable to evil influences from the northeast.
During the late Heian period the Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine had close links with the powerful Enryakuji Temple. When monks came down from the mountain to demonstrate in the capital and make demands of the emperor they would first stop at the shrine and take a mikoshi with them. At the shrine there is an unusual Sanno-style gate, more than three thousand maple trees, and three stone bridges contributed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
It is believed that the famous lore of three monkeys (speak no evil, hear no evil, and see no evil) associates with the shrine-temple entity of Mt Hiei. The central Buddhist deity of Mt Hiei is Sanno (Mountain King), but his messenger is the sacred monkey protecting the Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine. The monkey's role in guarding against demons originates from the word for monkey (saru), which is a homonym for the word expel (also pronounced saru).
The famous war lord and unifier of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi was also called monkey due to his ugly appearance and several faces. He was the good, the bad and the ugly in one person. He was also nicknamed monkey as he was a real trouble-maker. His native village called him Hiyoshi (Ref Taikoh Hanami Gyoretsu).