"Oomiwa Shrine: Sanctuary of the Sake Deity on Mt. Miwa, Nara Prefecture"

What is Oomiwa Shrine?

Situated on Mount Miwa in Nara Prefecture, Oomiwa Shrine is renowned as a sacred haven for the deity of sake. This shrine holds a significant place among Japan's three major sake shrines and traces its origins back to the ancient guardian of the nation's founding, Okuninushi-no-Mikoto.

 

Unveiling the Mysteries



According to legend, during the reign of Emperor Sujin (崇神天皇), an epidemic swept through the land, and it was believed that the intervention of Okuninushi-no-Mikoto(大物主大神) brought an end to the disease's spread. In gratitude, Emperor Sujin tasked Takahashi Ikukahi (高橋邑活日) (Ikukahi of Takahashi) with the noble duty of crafting an offering of sacred sake for the deity. Ikukahi, revered as the forefather of sake brewing, swiftly produced a splendid brew in a single night.


Remarkably, this celestial sake was employed to celebrate the deity in a grand festival and, at the conclusion of the festivities, Ikukahi presented the Emperor with an offering of sake, uttering, "This divine brew is not of my creation but that of Okuninushi-no-Mikoto, who sculpted the realm of Wa. May it thrive through countless ages." This act and proclamation led to the veneration of the shrine's deity as the god of sake brewing.

 

The Power of Rituals


Intriguingly, this veneration intertwined with custom, and the tradition emerged of using branches of cedar believed to harbor the spiritual essence of Okuninushi-no-Mikoto as signage for sake establishments. The sight of cedar balls known as "sugidama" suspended at shop entrances evokes a mystical ambiance akin to interludes of the divine.

Oomiwa Shrine on Mount Miwa in Nara Prefecture stands as a testament to the convergence of Japan's sake culture and sacred reverence. Its tales and traditions etch a fragment of the nation's history and the enigma of sake into the hearts of its devotees.

 

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