Morioka Hachiman-gu enshrining the god for the roots of human life
Established in 1062 to pray for military victory, the shrine first began as Hatomori Hachiman-gu, revered by a powerful clan, and then in 1593, it was reconstructed by the Nambu clan of Morioka as the protective shrine for Morioka Castle enshrining the area’s local deity and becoming worshiped widely by the people. In 1680, the 29th feudal lord, Shigenobu Nambu established the shrine as the current Hachiman-gu Shrine. The god Homudawake-no-Mikoto was enshrined to be rooted in the lives of the region as the god for the roots of human life which included farming, industry, commerce learning and the other basics of life. The shrine continues to be venerated as a place of belief for the citizens of Morioka. Restored in 1997, many of the shrines within the 6.6ha grounds, each with its own history and meaning, can be viewed, such as the central Morioka Hachiman-gu in its brilliant red and with its beautiful carvings, the ancient Kasamori Inari Shrine and Iwate Gogoku Shrine dedicated to the war dead in Iwate Prefecture.
Spectacular traditional events for the seasons
At Morioka Hachiman-gu Shrine, the festivities are not limited to the regular events seen at the nation’s other shrines such as the hatsumode (first prayer of the New Year) of January, with various events that have that regional flavor. The Hadaka-mairi of January 15th, involves about 130 semi-naked young men in loincloths bravely heading for the shrine in the harsh cold. Also, from September 13th for four days, there is the Rei-taisai where kabuki and historically impressive scenes are on showy floats that proceed one after the other through the streets, with lots of mikoshi and music to provide a grand and magical festival. At one of the highlights for that festival, known as the Yabusame Jinji where archers on horseback compete for their shooting accuracy. The feats of gallantry by these finely-attired archers are performed in dedication for a good harvest, national security and the safety of the household for the parishioners of the shrine.