Isonokami Jingu Shrine

Nara, Kansai

The shrine is dedicated not to a man or god, but to a divine sward that saved Emperor Jinmu

Situated on “Yamanobe-no-michi,” Japan’s oldest path from the base of Mt. Miwa to Nara, Isonokami Jingu is one of the oldest shrines of Japan. The shrine is dedicated not to a man or god but to a divine sward named Futsunomitama no okami.

According to legend, when Japan’s first Emperor Jinmu visited Kumano, Wakayama, during his conquering of Yamato, he froze due to exposure to poisonous air of a local god, and then a sward named Futsu-no-mitama saved him. It is said that the sword was later moved and enshrined in Isonokami Jingu. Since then the Imperial family has dedicated swords to the shrine. The shrine is said to be an armory of the Yamato Court.

The main hall was constructed in 1913. Before that time there was no main hall and the off-limits area where the divine sword is enshrined deep under the ground behind the front shrine was worshiped as the most sacred spiritual area. In 1874 when the off-limits area was surveyed, a large number of swords and pikes were unearthed, which proved the truth of the legends. This is why the main shrine was newly constructed.

The shrine houses many Important Cultural Properties of Japan. Seven-branched sward is particularly valuable and designated as a National Treasure.


384 Furu-cho, Tenri, Nara

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