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Tanegashima's God of Safe Childbirth, Cute Hina Festival at Imahime Shrine

Tanegashima's God of Safe Childbirth, Cute Hina Festival at Imahime Shrine
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Cute Hina Matsuri at Imahime Shrine, the god of childbirth on Tanegashima Island, with two gods

Mujoka" means cute in the Tanegashima dialect.

Imahime Shrine is located in the village of Masuda Mukai-cho, Nakatane-cho, about 20 minutes by car from the center of Tanegashima Town, the center of Tanegashima Island.

Amaterasu (Amaterasu Omikami) is the highest of the eight million deities and was born out of the left eye of Izanagi.

Later, she became the sun-goddess who governed the heavenly world and is now enshrined throughout the country, represented by the Inner Shrine of the Ise Jingu.

Amaterasu is also known as the ancestral goddess of the emperor and one of the most important gods in Japan, as she is said to grant all wishes and is mentioned in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki Chronicles as the goddess of wish fulfillment.

Toyouke-no-Ookami is the goddess of food and grain in Japanese mythology, and is said to be the grandson of Izanami.

Imahime Shrine is deeply connected to the history of Tanegashima and is revered as the island's guardian deity. The two deities, Amaterasu and Toyoke, are enshrined to protect the prosperity and peace of Tanegashima.

Within the precincts of the shrine are the main shrine and Kaguraden, which are designated as national important cultural properties, as well as many historical sites and cultural assets that tell the story of Tanegashima's history.

The "Imahime Shrine Festival," commonly known as the Mujoka Hina Festival, held every year from May 3 to 5, is one of the largest festivals on Tanegashima and attracts many visitors. It is also crowded with visitors during the Hatsumode season.

Imahime Shrine is one of the oldest shrines on Tanegashima and is designated as a cultural asset by Kagoshima Prefecture.

There are various theories about the history of Imahime Shrine, and although the date of its founding is unknown, according to the "Kagoshima Prefectural Records" compiled in the Muromachi period (1336-1573), Imahime Shrine was already in existence in the Kamakura period (1192-1333).

The shrine has long been worshipped as a guardian deity on Tanegashima Island, and during the Warring States Period, it was revered by the island's powerful clans, who donated a large amount of money to the shrine.

The precincts of Imahime Shrine were expanded in the Taisho era (1912-1926), and the main shrine, Kaguraden (a Shinto music and dance hall), auxiliary shrines, torii gates, stone lanterns, and a bell tower were built. The main shrine is made of wood and has a "single-layer worship hall" style, which is rare in Kagoshima Prefecture, and is an important cultural asset of Tanegashima.


Hina Dolls in the precincts of Imahime Shrine

Within the precincts of Imahime Shrine, there are also many historical sites and cultural assets that tell the history of Tanegashima. For example, the "Whale Mound" on the shrine grounds is a valuable relic that tells the history of Tanegashima, which prospered through whaling in the Edo period, and the "Shiratori Mound" on the shrine grounds was built on the site of Shiratori Castle, which once stood on Tanegashima.

The "Imahime Shrine Festival" is held every year from May 3 to 5, attracting many local residents and tourists. It is also crowded with many worshippers during the Hatsumode season.

We recommend that you visit Imahime Shrine when you visit Tanegashima. You can experience the history and culture of the island and spend a sacred time in a solemn atmosphere.

When you come to Imahime Shrine, you will feel the wish of the people of Tanegashima for the safe upbringing of their children.


Mujoka Hina Festival at Imahime Shrine

Since Amaterasu is a female deity, she is the guardian deity of safe childbirth and child rearing on Tanegashima Island

Safe childbirth has been the greatest wish of mankind since the earliest days of taiko drumming, and it was a life-threatening and difficult process.

Safe childbirth has been a wish of mankind since time immemorial, and I believe it is the same today.

Young women on the island visit Imahimejinsha to pray for safe delivery for both mother and child, and when the baby is born safely, they are sure to visit the shrine for their children's Shichi-Go-San (the 75th birthday of their children).

It is an important shrine for children and mothers on Tanegashima.

Imahime Shrine is famous for its Mujoka Hina Matsuri (Girls' Day Hina Festival)

Mujoka" means "cute" in the Tanegashima dialect, so this is a cute Hinamatsuri.

The Hina Matsuri at Imahime Shrine is a festival to display as many as 500 or more than 600 hina dolls.

Imahime Shrine is overwhelmingly visited by women worshippers

The overwhelming majority of visitors to this shrine seem to be women, children, or young couples.

During the Hina Matsuri, free cotton candy and poncakes are offered to children.

The sight of children enjoying Showa-era sweets is a scene unique to Tanegashima. At Imahime Shrine, men should give way to women and watch over them carefully so that they do not fall, which may be a blessing from God as a man protecting women.

Lots of small dolls on the precinct's worship route

Another feature of the Muyoka Hinamatsuri is that small dolls are displayed throughout the route to the shrine.

The approach to the shrine is relatively short and even pregnant women can visit the shrine, but it is advisable for men to support them on the stairs before the shrine.

The long staircase is probably made for this purpose, and at the Mujoka Hina Matsuri, the hina dolls are displayed on this long staircase.

During the Girls' Festival, dolls will be placed in front of the steps for worship.


Hina Dolls on the Stairs of Imahime Shrine

Free cotton candy at Imahime Shrine's Doll Festival

Free cotton candy was distributed to children.


Children lined up for cotton candy at Imahime Shrine

Walking nearby, you can see the ruins of a wartime ammunition depot

If you take a walk around the neighborhood of Imahimejinsha, you will find the ruins of a wartime ammunition depot.

It seems that it is not off-limits at the time of the war, so you can go inside.

Summary of the cute Hinamatsuri at Imahime Shrine, the god of safe childbirth on Tanegashima Island

It was Imahime Shrine in Nakatane Town, famous for its prayers for easy childbirth and child rearing on Tanegashima Island.

Safe delivery has been a wish of mankind since the days of Taiko, and it has not changed even today.

Since men can only cringe and actually do nothing in childbirth, this shrine is a ceremony of respect, reverence, and the greatness of women.

Men might want to visit this Imahime Shrine on Tanegashima with respect.

The daughter around the time of Shichi-Go-San is too cute for her father to ever let her get married, and the daughter is also saying, "I love my father! But I guess we will find out when the time comes.

Thank you for reading to the end.

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-Japanese Tradition (English)