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LastUpDate: August 31, 2012
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Hakata Culture vol.67


The appealing Hakozaki shrine and its historical Sakura gate

The appealing Hakozaki shrine and its historical Sakura gate image

Hojoya is a festival heralding the advent of autumn in Hakata. It is a lively event during which many open-air stalls line the approach to the Hakozaki shrine. Many people turn out in the evening, when the site is well-lit by lanterns. The festival is held to offer compassion to all life, and to admonish the taking of life. It has been held continuously for more than 1,000 years.

The festival site, the Hakozaki shrine, is known as one of the three major Hachiman shrines in Japan. It is said to have been founded during the Heian period in the 10th century. The guardian deity is the spirit of the Emperor Ojin, who was born in what is now Umi-machi in Fukuoka Prefecture. His placenta was placed in a box and kept here, and a pine tree was planted on the site as a symbol of it. The place later became known as Hakozaki. The name of the shrine is written with a different kanji to distinguish it from other places with the same name. The pine tree that represents the box with the placenta is surrounded by a red enclosure.

The most visually striking part of the shrine is the splendid Sakura gate in front of the main hall. It covers only 12 tsubo of ground area at the base, but the roof extends over a magnificent 83 tsubo. The tower gate has bright gold-frame calligraphy with the inscription, “The surrender of the enemy nation”. At the end of the fierce battles that occurred during the Mongol invasion of the 13th century, the enemy fleet was destroyed by a storm that came to be known as the divine wind, or kamikaze. The calligraphy is said to have been dedicated by the Emperor Daijo Kameyama for the reconstruction of the shrine, which was burned down during the invasion. Since then, many military commanders have visited the site to receive good luck on the battlefield.

There are several other sites worth seeing at the Hakozaki shrine. One is the Wakide-ishi, from which good fortune is said to erupt when it’s touched, the sanctuary with a six-meter-high wooden sculpture of the Emperor Daijo Kameyama, and the garden with lovely flowers that bloom year-round. It is well worth a visit at any time of the year, not just during the Hojoya.



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歴史ある楼門が目を引く筥崎宮

 「放生会(ほうじょうや)」は博多に秋の訪れを告げる祭りです。筥崎宮の参道にたくさんの露店が立ち並び、明かりの灯る夜ともなれば多くの人が繰り出してにぎわいます。放生会は「すべての生命あるものを慈しみ、殺生を戒める」ための祭りで、記録によると1000年以上も続いているそうです。

 舞台となる筥崎宮は日本三大八幡宮のひとつに数えられる歴史ある神社。平安時代の10世紀頃には創建されたと伝わります。主祭神の応神天皇は、現在の福岡県宇美町でお生まれになりました。その御胞衣(えな/胎盤のこと)を入れた箱をこの地に納め、そのしるしとして松を植えたことから、この場所を箱崎と呼ぶようになったそうです。他の場所と区別するため、神社の名称には特別に「筥」の文字が使われています。また御神木の「筥松」が赤い玉垣に囲まれて立っています。

 境内で、とりわけ目を引くのが本殿の前にある立派な楼門。わずか12坪の建坪に対して、屋根は83坪もあるという雄大な造りです。さらに金色に輝く「敵国降伏」の額が掲げられています。13世紀の蒙古襲来(元寇)の折り、激しい戦闘の末、俗にいう「神風」が吹いて敵を追い払ったと伝えられます。この額の文字は、炎上した筥崎宮の再興にあたって亀山上皇が納めた文字だそうです。この故事以来、筥崎宮は勝運の神様として多くの武将が訪れる場所になりました。

 ほかにも筥崎宮にはさまざまなスポットがあります。さわると「運が湧く」とされる湧出石(わきでいし)、高さ約6mもの亀山上皇の木像を納めた奉安殿、四季折々の草花が咲く花庭園などなど。放生会期間中だけでなく、季節ごとに訪れても楽しめる場所です。