Umenomiya Taisha Shrine's History and Mythology


Umenomiya Taisha - One of the Three Major Sake Shrines


Umenomiya Taisha is one of the three major sake shrines in Japan, enshrining the deity of sake and dissolution, Sakatokeno-kami (also known as Ōyamatsumi-no-kami). This shrine stands alone as the sole place of worship for this deity in Japan.


Sake Brewing in Early Heian Period and the Role of Women


During the early Heian period, sake brewing was predominantly carried out by the Imperial Court. Interestingly, it's noted that the person in charge of sake brewing was often a woman during this time.

 

From "Toji 刀自"  to  "Toji 杜氏"


The term "Toji" originally referred to women engaged in household chores and homemaking, including those serving at the Imperial Court. Over time, this term evolved to become the name for the specialized sake brewers of today.

 

Umenomiya Taisha's Connection to the Tachibana Clan


The shrine is considered the patron deity (Ujigami) of the "Tachibana clan," an ancient Japanese clan. It's suggested that Moroe's (the clan's founder) mother, Inukai Michiyo, who was part of the Tachibana clan, held a position of responsibility for brewing within the Imperial Court.

 

Mythology and the Deities' Names


The deity Ōyamatsumi-no-kami, particularly revered as the god of sake dissolution, is enshrined alongside other deities associated with brewing and sake. These include Mikahayasuhime-no-mikoto as the deity of sake dissolution, Nigihayahi-no-mikoto as the deity of the main brew, and Hikohohodemi-no-mikoto as the deity of the secondary brew. These names are rooted in mythological stories that honor the beginnings of sake brewing.

 

Umenomiya Taisha's Distinctive Role


Umenomiya Taisha uniquely emphasizes the virtues of brewing and sake dissolution, setting it apart from other shrines. It's the only shrine that jointly venerates Ōyamatsumi-no-kami and other brewing-related deities, highlighting its crucial role in the history of sake production.

 

Conclusion


Umenomiya Taisha's significance lies in its historical connection to brewing and sake production, and its enduring reverence among brewers throughout the ages. Its ties to the Tachibana clan and its embodiment of mythological tales underscore its importance in preserving and enriching Japan's sake.

 

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