Lifestyles and Traditions - Shrines
Tamawakasu-mikoto Shrine is the sōja shrine -a shinto shrine where the deities of a region are grouped and enshrined together- of Oki Province, and the deity enshrined here is, as the name suggests, Tamawakasu-no-mikoto. According to Inshū Shicho Gakki, a chorography published in the Edo Period, the shrine was built under the imperial order of Emperor Tenmu. There is also a theory which states the deity enshrined is Prince Ōsuwake-no-miko, the fifth son of Emperor Keikō, but it is believed that enshrined here is the founding deity of Oki.
Sōja shrine is a system practiced in mid-Heian Period. It is a shrine which is close to the provincial capital and deities -the ones a provincial governor pays homage to- within a province gather and rituals are performed once a year. Provinces here are the small countries under the rulership of Yamato Kingship. Before the sōja system was established, the appointed provincial governor would travel and visit all the shrines within the province. It is believed that this shrine was given this status since it was located close to the provincial capital of Oki back then. In addition, the name of the area, "Kō-no-hara", gives hints that the shrine was very close to the provincial capital and it is presumed that the provincial capital was located around the opposite of the shrine grounds.
A mixture of architectural styles can be seen in the main hall of this shrine. The roof is Taisha-zukuri, an architectural style named after the one at Izumo Grand Shrine. The floor plan and the pillars were built in Shinmei-zukuri of Ise Grand Shrine, and the pent-roof in the foreground was built in Oki-zukuri, a unique style which incorporated the Kasuga-zukuri of Kasuga Grand Shrine / Kasuga Taisha. In addition, the log between the forked roof finials (chigi) and above the short decorative log (katsuogi) is called "birds' landing'' or "crows' porch", which is also another unique feature. Tōe-no-Mikoto, the first head of the Oki-ke family, which has served as the chief priests of the shrine for generations, was sent to Oki during the reign of Emperor Ōjin during the Kofun Period. The Oki-ke residence, which was built around 200 years ago, has been continued for more than 50 generations and has been designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan.