Miho Shrine Festivals


Morotabune Ship Race Ceremony

***** Location: Shimane prefecture
***** Season: Mid-Winter
***** Category: Observance


Rituals at the shrine Miho Jinja 美保神社, Shimane
島根県松江市美保関町美保関 608, Matsue city, Miho town

Miho Shrine is located in the small fishing village of Mihonoseki, and the main deity, Kotoshiro-nushi is worshipped as the God of good fortune, fishing and safety at sea.
The deity is the child of Okuni-nushi and is also known as Ebisu.
- source : visitshimane.com

This is the headquarter of the Kotoshirunushi Ebisu shrines 事代主神系えびす, with more than 3000 sub-shrines.

Ebisu here is known as
Narimono no Kamisama 鳴り物の神様 "Deity of Instruments"
especially the drums

. Ebisu えびす 恵比寿 .

The shrine has a long history and is already mentioned in the 出雲国風土記 Izumo Fudoki:

The present-day head priest of the Yokoyama family 横山宮司 is now in the 89th generation.

- Homepage of the Shrine
- source : mihojinja.html


morotabune no shinji 諸手船神事 (もろたぶねのしんじ)
Morotabune Ritual
..... morotabune 諸手船(もろたぶね)

iyaho no matsuri 八百穂祭(いやほのまつり)
Ritual of 800 rice ears

mikuji ubai 御籤奪(みくじうばい)
fighting for fortune telling slips

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This was a harvest thanksgiving ritual, performed on November 23.
Hence the name
Ritual of 800 rice ears

After the race, the participants have a feast including a dish with wakame kelp and other types of seaweed.


This rite takes place on December 3 at Miho Shrine in Mihonoseki Town, Yatsuka County, Shimane Prefecture.

This relates to the myth regarding the transfer of the land (kuniyuzuri 国譲り) recorded in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki. This rite is a recreation of the myth that Ōnamuchi-no-mikoto's messenger who came in a dug-out canoe called a morotabune and the enshrined deity (saijin), Kotoshirononushi-no-mikoto 事代主神, had a talk at the Mihonoseki harbor mouth regarding land transfers.

In the evening festival, there is a ceremony with 75 kinds of special food and wine offerings (shinsen) being offered to the kami.
On the main festival day, the chief priest (gūji) uses sacred lots (mikuji) to select a steersman and rowers.

A parade led by the carrier of a makka (wooden sword), leaves the shrine and goes to Miyanada, which is before the shrine. The gūji oversees the event from a temporary hut built with curtains, in front of Miyanada 宮灘.

Two morotabune boats in the shape of ancient dug-out canoes (kurifune). Eighteen people including the makka carrier, steersman, and rowers split up and board the boats, take up paddles and begin rowing out to sea. They row to the east mouth of Mihonoseki harbor, to below the headland Mt. Marōdo, worship at the Marōdo Shrine which 客人社 is dedicated to Ōnamuchi-no-mikoto 大国主神, and then return to Miyanada.

The boats do this trip three times, competing against each other. When this is finished, the makka carriers removes the makka from the prow where it had been mounted race to offer it at the shrine. The steersman stands at the prow and performs a call-and-response prayer with gūji standing on the seawall. When this is done they cross the harbor and then there are three boat races.
source : Mogi Sakae, Kokugakuin University. 2007

- quote
Kuniyuzuri The "transfer of the land."
The term indicates a series of episodes in Kojiki and Nihongi related to the transfer of the land of Japan to the descendants of the heavenly kami (amatsukami) by Ōkuninushi, a terrestial kami (kunitsukami).
After Susanoo, the brother of Amaterasu, descended from the heavenly realm to Izumo and slew the great serpent, he married Kushinadahime. Their child (according to the main text of the Nihongi) or grandchild (according to one alternative passage of Nihongi) was Ōkuninushi. Ultimately Ōkuninushi and Sukunahikona worked together to solidify the Central Land of the Reed Plains (Toyoashihara no mizuho no kuni).
However, Amaterasu and Takamimusuhi, wanting the land for their descendants to rule, sent a messenger to Ōkuninushi asking him to transfer the land. Both Amenohohi, the first messenger sent, and Amewakahiko, the second, took sides with Ōkuninushi and did not report back. Not only did the latter marry a daughter of Ōkuninushi and fail to report back to the High Plain of Heaven (Takamanohara), but he also became the practical ruler of the Central Land of the Reed Plains.

Amaterasu then conferred with the deities of the High Plain of Heaven and sent Takemikazuchi accompanied by Amenotorifune (Torinoiwakusufune). Takemikazuchi strongly urged Ōkuninushi to transfer the land, and received the allegiance of Ōkuninushi's son Kotoshironushi , and defeated another of his sons, Takeminakata, who opposed the plan, in a trial of strength.

Then Ōkuninushi agreed to transfer the land, giving the unconcealed realm of the Central Land of the Reed Plains to the Heavenly Grandchild. Ōkuninushi retreated to govern the unseen world (yūkai, see kakuriyo) while being eternally enshrined in the Great Shrine (Izumo Taisha).

With this preparations were complete for the descent of the Heavenly Grandchild (tenson kōrin). There also exist different traditions relating to the above events. For example, Izumo no kuni no miyatsuko kamu yogoto says that the true messenger sent down from the High Plain of Heaven was Amenohinatori, the ancestor of Izumo kokusō. It is now thought that the episode of the "transfer of the land" as described in Kojki and Nihongi represents a mythical version of the process of state unification under the Yamato court. This unification was achieved over a long period of time both through negotiation with powerful local families and through military conquest.

Izumo seems to have retained its ancient political and religious authority until the very end, and it was only with its fall that final unification was achieved. This appears to have happened in the time of the emperors Sujin and Suinin.
- source : Kobori Keiko, Kokugakuin

Okuninushi (Omono Nushi) at the Grand Shrine in Izumo

Oonamuchi no Mikoto, Ōnamuchi-no-mikoto 大己貴命(おおなむちのみこと)
- - - Ookuninushi 大国主(おおくにぬし)

Kotoshironushi 事代主命 and his wife Mihotsu Hime no Mikoto 三穂津姫命

- quote -
Mihotsuhime (Nihongi) - 三穂津姫尊
According to an "alternative writing" transmitted by Nihongi, Mihotsuhime was the daughter of Takamimusuhi no mikoto, given in marriage to Ōmononushi (see Ōkuninushi no kami). In the episode known as the "transfer of the land" (kuniyuzuri), Takamimusuhi warned Ōmononushi that if the latter took a wife from among the earthly kami (kunitsukami), Takamimusuhi would consider him to be disaffected. As a result, Takamimusuhi gave his own daughter Mihotsuhime in marriage to Ōkuninushi, charging him to lead the "80 myriad hosts of kami" and forever protect the imperial line.
- source : Kokugakuin Nishioka Kazuhiko 2005 -

Mihotsu Hime 三穂津姫命は大国主神の幸魂奇魂(さきみたま・くしみたま)である「大物主神」の后神。Kotoshironushi 事代主命は神屋楯比売神(かむやたてひめ)と大国主神との間の子供なので義理の母親にあたる)

- quote -
Miho 三穂
- source : kokugakuin 渡辺卓 -

. Izumo taisha 出雲大社 Izumo Grand Shrine .


CLICK for original : nakamura collection

Other rituals at the shrine Miho Jinja

The region is closely related to wakame kelp and nori seaweed.
The most famous are from the island Uppurui 十六島(うっぷるい).

美保神社の和布刈神事 mekari shinji
Cuttind kelp at Miho Shrine

Dating back to the time of Jingu Kogo on her war tour to Korea, and later Hideyoshi on the same war path.

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mekari no shinji 和布刈神事 (めかりのしんじ)
ritual of cutting seaweed
..... mekari 和布刈(めかり)cutting wakame seaweed
mekari negi 和布刈禰宜(めかりねぎ)
Shinto priest porforming the mekari ritual

observance kigo for mid-winter

mekari no shinji 和布刈(り)の神事 is also practised at other shrines in Japan, for example at the Sumiyoshi Shrine in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi 山口県下関市の住吉神社 on the first of January, in the first high tide of the night. The kelp is then offered to the deities. After this, in the naorai 直会 ceremony, it is eaten by the attendants.

There is a shrine called Mekari Jinja 和布刈神社 at Moji, Kitakyushu, where seaweed is cut in the night from December 31 to January 1.

Mekari Shrine and the Deity
. Azumi no Isora Maru 阿曇磯良丸 Isoramaru .


神迎(かみむかえ)神事 Kami mukae
Welcoming the Deity

This is a ceremony on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, when wakame is eaten.
The fire for preparing the meal for the vegetarian offering (潔斎食 kessai shoku) is made from special flintstone. The official food offering consists of cooked rice and salt, sesame seeds, vegetables, seaweed (wakame, nori, konbu etc.) and others. Miso and soy sauce are not used for this meal, since they are prepared using fire.

This day is the Boy's Festival Day.


青柴垣(あおふしがき)神事 Aofushigaki
Ritual of green fenced boats

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This is a ceremony on the third day of the third lunar month.
Nowadays it is held around the 7th of April. At the end of the rituals, wakame is eaten.
The festival is in memory of a legend, when boats decorated with green brushes wrought into fences (ao fushi) came cruising into Miho Bay.

This day is the Doll's Festival Day.

kigo for late spring


紫菜島(のりしま)神社 Norishima shrine
source : 出雲海藻風土記

. Izumo Fudoki (Izumo Fuudoki 出雲風土記)   

. Nori from Uppurui Island, uppurui nori

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

. Jingu Kogo 神功皇后 and Japanese Dolls .

. Peron Boat Race (peeron)  

The morotabune boats look a bit similar to the peron dragon boats.


There is another famous shrine of this name in Japan.

Miho Jinja 御穂神社 ー 三保神社

at the famous pine forest in Shizuoka.

Miho no matsubara 三保の松原 Miho pine grove

a scenic area located on the Miho Peninsula in the Shimizu-ku area of Shizuoka, Japan.
Miho no Matsubara is renowned as a seashore with beautiful green pine trees and white sands spanning over seven kilometers. It has a great scenic view of Mount Fuji and the Izu Peninsula across Suruga Bay. Due to its beauty, it is designated as one of New Three Views of Japan (新日本三景, Shin Nihon Sankei)
Miho no Matsubara is known as the site of the legend of Hagoromo(the Feathered Robe), which is based on the traditional swan maiden motif. The story of Hagoromo concerns a celestial being flying over Miho no Matsubara who was overcome by the beauty of the white sands, green pines, and sparkling water. She removed her feathered robe and hung it over a pine tree before bathing in the beautiful waters. A fisherman named Hakuryo was walking along the beach and saw the angel. He took her robe and refused to return it until she performed a heavenly dance for him. As the angel could not return to heaven without her robe, she complied with Hakuryo's request. She danced in the spring twilight and returned to heaven in the light of the full moon leaving Hakuryo looking longingly after her.
. . .
On the second Saturday and Sunday of October, the city of Shizuoka holds a Hagoromo Festival near the site of the old pine tree.
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observance kigo for the New Year

Miho matsuri 三保祭 Miho festival
Miho mairi Miho mairi  三保参
On the 14th day of the first lunar month.
A divination of the coming harvest and good business made with rice gruel.
. tsutsugayu matsuri 筒粥祭 divination with rice gruel.
If the reading is 8, it is better than a full 10.


the sweaty brows
of all these rowers -

Gabi Greve

Related words

***** . Mikuji, O-Mikuji 御御籤/御神籤
Fortune Telling slips

***** . Ships, Boats and Kigo

***** Amulets for a big catch
. Tsuri yuki anzen 釣行安全 safety when fishing .

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Gabi Greve said...

Udohama Nyosen 宇度浜女仙 female Sennin from Udohama beach
and 漁夫 her husband, a fisherman

She is Nr. 02 of the
. 日本の仏仙人16人 - The 16 Buddhist Immortals of Japan .

Udohama 宇度濱(うどはま)/ 有度浜 / 宇土浜 / 宇渡浜(うとはま) Utohama
In Shizuoka, 駿河国宇度郡 Suruga, Udo District, near 三保の松原 Miho no Matsubara.

Not much is known about her. She appeared at the beach of Udohama and became the wife of a fisherman.

A dance performed by heavenly maidens who arrived at Udohama, Suruga Province in the reign of Emperor Ankan is known.

Gabi Greve said...

This Shrine is Nr. 08 on the
Izumo no Kuni Shinbutsu Pilgrimage 出雲國神仏霊場編