Izawa-no-miya is a Shinto shrine in the Kaminogō neighborhood of Isobe in the city of Shima in Mie Prefecture, Japan. It is one of the two shrines claiming the title of ichinomiya of former Shima Province. Together with the Takihara-no-miya in Taiki, it is one of the Amaterasu-Ōkami no Tonomiya, or external branches of the Inner Shrine of the Ise Grand Shrine.
Izawanomiya also has a special status among the Betsugu (auxiliary shrine) under Naiku (the Inner Shrine) of Ise Jingu Shrine. As the trunk of the camphor tree resembles a kinchaku (money pouch), it is also known as kinchaku camphor tree which is said to build up savings of those who touches the tree.
Izawanomiya Otaue Festival
This festival takes place on June 24th each year at Izawanomiya (Izawa Shrine) – one of the 123 shinto shrines that makes up the giant Ise Grand Shrine complex in Mie Prefecture. Additionally, the festival has been officially recognised intangible cultural asset and one of three major “Otaue” festivals in Japan each year. “Otaue” means rice planting and sowing the rice plants is one of the shinto rituals performed in order to ensure a good harvest. The others happen in Chiba Prefecture in April and as part of the Sumiyoshi Festival in Osaka.
Aside from the ritual planting, a large blue bamboo pole is put at the bottom of the muddy field. Teams of men in fundoshi (loin cloths) scramble through the mud to grab the pole and carry it off. It’s believed that the successful pole grabbers will be provided with safety while at sea.
The mythology of the festival involves an ancient visit by 7 sharks which swam up the Nogawa (No River) to visit the shrine. The sharks are purported to visit even now, so that local fishermen suspend their fishing – presumably so that the sharks aren’t accidentally caught. An added bonus is that they get to scramble through the mud after the talismanic bamboo pole.
Official Website: https://www.kankomie.or.jp/event/detail_5106.html
Address: 374 Isobecho Kaminogo, Shima, Mie 517-0208, Japan
Admission Fee: Free
5:00 – 18:00 January to April, September
5:00 – 19:00 May to July, August
5:00 – 17:00 October to December
Get off at Kintetsu “Kaminogo Station” and walk for about 5 minutes , or
From “Ise West Interchange” via Ise Highway to Isobe Town, Shima City
History of Izawanomiya Shrine
The origins of the Izawa-no-miya are unknown. According to the spurious Kamakura period Yamatohime Seki the shrine was founded by PrincessYamato, the daughter of Emperor Suinin and first saiō of the Ise Grand Shrine, who sought a place of sacrifice further east from Ise, and this was the only land in the area with rice fields. While this legend is unsupported, the earliest mention of the shrine is in the 804 Kotai Jingu Ceremony Book and the 927 Engishiki records.
The shrine was looted and burned down by forces from Kumano shrine during the Genpei War in 1180. During the Edo Period, the priests of this shrine forged a document attempting the “prove” that their shrine was the original Ise Grand Shrine and that the existing Ise Grand Shrine was an imposter. During the Meiji period era of State Shinto, the shrine was regarded as a part of Ise Grand Shrine and was not given a rank under the Modern system of ranked Shinto Shrines.
The sacred rice planting ceremony held annually on June 24 is considered to be one of Japan’s three major rice planting festivals, along with Katori Jingu and Sumiyoshi Taisha. The ceremony became a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property in 1990. The shrine is located a five-minute walk from Kaminogō Station on the Kintetsu Shima Line.