國學院大學
國學院大學デジタルミュージアム

Encyclopedia of Shinto

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カテゴリー1 6. Belief and Practice
カテゴリー2 Shrines and Cultic Practices
Title
Text Kasuga cult. Kasuga Shrine (Kasuga Taisha) is a shrine located in the foothills of Mt. Mikasa that venerates the divided spirits (kanjō) of the kami worshipped at Kashima, Katori, and Hiraoka shrines (saijin).  Because those kami were the clan deities (ujigami) of the Fujiwara family—which had been the maternal line (gaiseki) to the imperial house at the time of Kasuga Shrine was founded—the Kasuga Festival became a state-sponsored event and the shrine enjoyed the favor of the imperial court. Devotion to the Fujiwara clan deities was central to the Kasuga cult, but over time it took on various other characteristics. One important element was the cult that developed around Mt. Mikasa, which held it as an object of worship for being possessed by a kami (shintaizan). This belief is thought to predate the founding of Kasuga Shrine. Thunder (raijin) and dragon (ryūjin shinkō) deity cults also developed there in the medieval period. In the late Heian period, Kōfuku Temple was paired with Kasuga Shrine as its bettōji (see jingūji); the tendency to view the Kasuga deities as protectors of Kōfuku Temple and of the Hossō sect of Buddhism became quite pronounced as a result. “Divine trees” (shinboku) from Kasuga Shrine would be brought out when Kōfuku Temple conducted demonstrations (a feature particularly of late classical period church-state relations, these gōso—literally “forceful protests”—were carried out by monks and priests who, usually bearing sacred objects, would descend on Kyoto to exert pressure on courtiers). Based on the honji suijaku theory of Buddhist “original essences provisionally manifested” as kami, the “shining deities of the four shrines” (shisho myōjin) were determined to be manifestations of the bodhisattva Jihimangyō.  A sub-shrine (wakamiya) dedicated to the “offspring kami” (mikogami) of the Kasuga deities was established in 1135, and Kōfuku Temple would hold Kasuga Wakamiya festivals on a grand scale, with bugaku, sarugaku, dengaku, and other performances carried out as offerings to the shrine. Deer were worshipped as “divine servants” (shinshi), which resulted in the production of Kasuga deer mandalas depicting the divine deer. The legends contained in the Kasugagongengenki reveal various other aspects of the medieval Kasuga cult. The cult spread throughout Japan due to the many Kasuga confraternities () that were formed among commoners, along with the fact that Kasuga Shrine was counted along with Ise and Hachiman as one of the "three shrine oracles" (sanja takusen).

— Satō Masato
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Kasuga Shinkō