[English below] ※石鎚神社本社／厄除階段前の鳥居
Picture 1: The Main shrine of Ishizuchi Shrine: Torii gate in front of "Steps to ward off evil"
Picture 2: Torii gate of Ishizuchi Shrine Chugu Jojusha and sacred rope "Shimenawa" of the main shrine
Picture 3: Huge Torii gate on the approach to Saijo inari
Picture 4: Sacred rope "Shimenawa" at Reiko-den of Saijo Inari
何を以て一般的には「神社建築」だとするのか！？ ・・・・では…次回にm(_ _)m
Picture 5: Chi-gi and Katsuo-gi of Goshinza at Sorei-den of Ishizuchi Shrine
Picture 6: Chi-gi and Katsuo-gi of the shrine at the top of Mt. Ishizuchi
←Picture 7: Takedera in Hanno City, Saitama
↓Picture 8: Chi-no-wa at Torii gate on the approach to Takedera
Picture 9: Chi-gi and Katsuo-gi of Sorei-den of the Main shrine of Ishizuchi Shrine
The Message of the Week
Hi! I’m Hideshi Sogabe, "Negi" Senior Priest of Ishizuchi Shrine. Here comes my turn! As a Shinto priest, let me talk more about our trivia facts of Shinto. Of course, it doesn't bother you that you don't know details about Shinto architecture, but getting familiar with some interesting facts of Shinto may make your life a bit happier! Here we go!
Sometimes, not very often, visitors to Ishizuchi Shrine or Jojusha ask me "Could you please tell me the number of Fudasho of this temple?" Whenever I come across this sort of question, I think to myself "Well, you must have seen a couple of Torii gates on your way here...what on earth made you think this is a temple?"
NEVERTHELESS, I should say that this question puts finger on a very important point, in a sense. Torii gates do not necessarily prove that the building is a Shinto shrine or neither do sacred ropes Shimenawa.
Let me give a you very good example: both Picture 3 and 4 show Saijo Inari-san Myokyoji temple in Okayama well known as one of three major Inari in Japan. You can see a huge Torii gate on the approach to the temple, and also you will find a huge sacred Shimenawa rope at Reiko-den, the main hall. It goes without saying that religious festivals are held by Buddhist monks here, not by Shinto priests.
Ahem! let me tell you what features identify buildings as Shinto architecture, then. These features are NOT found at the front shrine hall of worship BUT at the roof top of "Goshinza", that is, the place where there is a god, you know, a god's bedroom, which is basically placed at the innermost of the shrine. If you find the crossed beams extending upwards from both ends of the roof gables, they are what is called "Chi-gi", and the shorter log-shaped sections set horizontally on the roof are "Katsuo-gi": they are characteristics of Shinto architecture. In case a shrine is located at the top of windy mountain, they can be avoided for the sake of safety. As for our Ishizuchi shrine at the very top of Mt. Ishizuchi, however, carpenters specializing in temple and shrine, "Miyadaiku", did their very best to fix Chi-gi and Katsuo-gi to the roof so safely that they will never be blown away even by the strongest rainy or snowy storm.
Well, actually I've got some more to explain here: please have a look at Picture 7 and 8. Iozan Yakujyuin Hachioji, commonly known as "Takedera", in Hanno-City, Saitama is the only temple based upon the syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism in East Japan. The principal image of this temple is not Buddha, but Gozu Tenno. As its name shows, it is the temple, but it is also marked by characteristic Chi-gi and even by the sacred hoop called "Chi-no-wa", which is usually used at Summer Purification "Nagoshi" Ritual held at Shinto shrines in general. You can find this sacred hoop hung from the Torii gate at Takedera all the year round.
Lastly, let's have a closer look at Chi-gi and Katsuo-gi. Chi-gi is usually written "千木" in Chinese characters, but sometimes it is written as "知木". You see, the character "知" refers to wisdom or knowledge, and the sound "chi" is connected with something spiritual in the archaic Japanese belief "Kododama" that words have a sprit in it, thus Chi-gi also means the trees where gods' spirits abide.
Let us go a bit further, OK? Please have a look at Picture 9: Chi-gi of Ishizuchi shrine are cut vertically, and known as "soto-sogi", while those cut horizontally as "uchi-sogi". It is often said that the former indicates a male god enshrined within, and the latter a female god, but it's only one theory. Actually, Ishizuchi shrine enshrines Ishizuchihiko-no-mikoto, a male god, but at the Sorei-den(=Picture 9), we worship not only Ishizuchihiko-no-mikoto, but also Ennoodunu who founded Mt. Ishizuchi, together with generations of priests as well as believers both male and female. So the theory above does not apply to our shrine ;-)
Katsuo-gi, literally means "Bonito woods", is called so because they look like the shape of bonito (both raw and dried!) It is also written as "勝男木", which again literally means "Man of Victory woods". Based upon these ideas, some say that the larger number of Katsuo-gi indicates the higher divine virtue, or some say that the odd number of Katsuo-gi indicates a male god enshrined within and the even number a female god. But, as you may guess, they are again popular beliefs, so it does not bother you that you don't know them, didn't I tell you? ;-D
--Hideshi Sogabe (16, August 2021)