Encyclopedia of Shinto

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カテゴリー1: 3. Institutions and Administrative Practices
カテゴリー2: Medieval and Early Modern
Nijūnisha (The 21 Shrines)
Text Twenty-two shrines (Ise, Iwashimuzu, Kamo, Matsuno-o, Hirano, Inari, Kasuga, Ōharano, Ōmiwa, Isonokami, Ōyamato, Hirose, Tatta, Sumiyoshi, Hie, Umenomiya, Yoshida, Hirota, Gion, Kitano, Niukawakami, Kibune) that received special patronage from the imperial court beginning in the mid-Heian period and ending in the mid-Medieval period. In this case, it is common practice to refer to the two shrines Kamowakeikazuchi shrine and Kamomioya as one shrine referred to as Kamo in above list. All of these shrines are located in or around Kyoto and were primarily responsible for rain rituals, along with rites for stopping deluges, rites during times of calamity and auspicious natural events, and rites during times of political and imperial crisis. Along with this role, these shrines took part in annual and twice-yearly rites for agricultural fecundity (these rites began after the mid-Heian period) and received offerings from the imperial court. Yoshida Kanetomo's theory of a fivefold development of this system (beginning in 966 with the establishment of the sixteen shrines, followed by an increase in member shrines; from sixteen to nineteen, then to twenty-one, and finally twenty-two) has generally held to be correct. However, today this theory is widely thought to be erroneous. Still, the observation that the system developed in increments is true. In the mid-Heian period, sixteen shrines (Ise, Iwashimuzu, Kamo, Matsuno-o, Hirano, Inari, Kasuga, Ōharano, Ōmiwa, Isonokami, Ōyamato, Sumiyoshi, Hirose, Tatta, Niukawakami, Kibune) were first included in this system. This was followed by the inclusion of Hirota shrine and then, sometime during the latter half of the eleventh or the early part of the twelfth century (during the reign of the Ichijō court), Yoshida, Umenomiya, Kitano, and Gion shrines were added (in that order). It appears that during the Insei period (the late Heian period characterized by indirect rule of retired emperors), Hie shrine was further included in this grouping. Under the Taira reign in the mid-Heian period, a plan to include Utsukushima Shrine was created, but it was never realized, leaving the final number of shrines in the system at twenty-two. Although many of the shrines in this system are large-scale shikinaisha, a number of them — Iwashimizu, Ōharano, Gion, and Kitano — are not of this class. Unfortunately, it is difficult to ascertain why these shrines outside of the shrine bureaucracy were awarded special favor. However, one reason that can be cited is that with developments in the ritsuryō system and a decline of court power over the provinces the interests of the aristocracy and the imperial court focused on the Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara areas. Similarly, a restructuring of the bureaucratic system and a stronger focus on imperial and aristocratic religious beliefs (which had not been as prominent under the Jingikan model) can be seen as part of this trend. Recently, as well, some theories have argued that the sixteen shrine model has its origins in the Myōjinsai and also in the establishment of offerings for agricultural fecundity and rain during the reign of emperor Daigo (especially between the years 898-922). Other theories state that the inclusion of the five other shrines in this system originates in the kami-based rule of the Fujiwara regency (967–1068). It should be noted that not only shrines in the system of the twenty-two shrines were sites where regular offerings and prayers were held. In many cases, certain shrines were only chosen for special and occasional rites and ceremonies. Until the middle part of the medieval period, shrines in this system were regarded as the highest-ranking shrines in the land. With the decline of the imperial court, however, the importance of these shrines (excluding Ise, Kamo, and Iwashimizu) also declined.
— Namiki Kazuko

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List of Nijūnisha