Mitsumine Shrine 三峰神社 | Chichibu, Japan
Deep into the mountains of Chichibu, 1000 meters in the air, sits Mitsumine Shrine, rare for its worship of the now-extinct Japanese wolf. (ookami, オオカミ,狼) The shrine dates back 1900 years. Worship of the animal deities protects one from misfortune. The area has three mountain shrines, with the summit of Mount Mitsumine the main attraction. (along with Chichibu Shrine and Hodosan Shrine) Of the three mountain top shrines, Mitsumine protects from misfortune. In Edo times, buildings in not-so-far off Edo (today’s Tokyo) were made of wood and destructive fires were common, so pilgrims traveled form the city to pray for protection. Mitsumine also enshrines the gods of married couples, Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto. (from Japanese mythical origin and the parent gods of the pantheon of Japanese gods) Married couples come to pray for a happy married life.
History of the Shrine
According to the Kojiki (古事記, "Records of Ancient Matters" or "An Account of Ancient Matters”, published around 712 CE) the shrine was founded by warrior prince Takeru Yamato in 212 CE. (it’s the oldest known chronicle of ancient Japan, and since it is based on oral tradition we can’t really prove that Takeru existed) He was the son of Emperor Keiko of Japan. (though both are most likely a mythical characters) The name Yamato is significant, as early Japanese referred to the land as Yamato. Although the existence of both is debated, they are said to have been the earliest unifiers of Japan. Historians believe he may have been based on a real-life person. Takeru Yamato’s story is where we’ll begin, and though it is probably fiction, we learn what the ancient Japanese believed united them.
This narrative chooses the academic sources when there is a conflict of details. Accounts are muddied, but the following has led to cultural reverence for Yamato Takeru and a national origin story. Learn about the story on Google Earth here: https://goo.gl/egAVX7
Touching palms and foreheads to the sacred trees to draw their positive energy for good luck.