Previously, we had a very info-heavy entry attempting to clarify the multiple identities of a some of the locally beloved gods. By the Kojiki, they are Okuninushi (enshrined at Izumo Taisha) and his son Kotoshironushi (enshrined at Miho Shrine), but by popularly accepted knowledge, they are the two most ubiquitous lucky gods of prosperity, Daikoku and Ebisu. Miho Shrine is a short distance from a favorite fishing spot of Ebisu’s. It is nestled between a historic little harbor and Edo-esque town filled with dried and drilled squid to snack on, and the thickly forested mountains found throughout the Mihonoseki cape. Notice anything strange in that last picture? Usually, a shrine will only have one honden (main hall where the deity is enshrined). Miho Shrine, as you might have noticed, has two! It is the only example of Taisha-tsukuri style shrine architecture with two honden, one for each of the primary deities celebrated there. The current buildings were constructed in 1813, and they became National Important Cultural Property in 1981. As previously discussed, one of the two deities is Kotoshironushi/Ebisu, the god of fishing (and by extension, commerce). He is also thought of a god of music, so a number of instruments, such as lutes and drums, are kept as treasures within the shrine. The other is Mihotsu-hime, a goddess of harvest. This is a shrine of keeping people well fed, obviously. Makes a lot of sense in Shimane, which historically could rely on its own local seafood and rice production most of the time. That is why an emblem of the shrine is a of a red sea bass (tai, which Ebisu is often illustrated carrying) with a stalk of rice. Because Ebisu loves fishing, the ema (prayer boards) are dangled like fishing poles instead of merely hung by looped strings.
Mihotsu-hime is recorded under this name in the Nihonshoki. She is a considered a wife of the Lord of the Lands and a daughter of the subduer of the Yamata-no-Orochi. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you probably already know her by her Kojiki name, Suseri-bime, subduer of bugs! So, by that logic, Kotoshironushi shares a place with one of his step-mothers. I haven’t come across anything that suggests they don’t get along, so it’s probably safe to say the arrangement has been working out well. One of the fun things about Taisha-tsukuri architecture is that the style of the posts on top of the shrine indicate whether it is a male or a female deity inside. This is how you can tell who dwells in which honden! Before the Daikoku and Ebisu stuff came into the wider story of San’in region mythology, Miho Shrine and Izumo Taisha already had ties, as Miho Shrine plays a key role in the story of Izumo Taisha. That story, “Kuni-yuzuri,” will be the final one I cover in my manga renditions. First, we’ll have a short Fudoki myth about a shrine that upstages Miho Shrine with its number of honden!