About Kibitsujinja Shrine
This shrine was originally the main shrine of the guardian kami (gods or deities) of Kibi Province, but it became the principal shrine of Bitchu Province when Kibi Province was divided into three provinces (Bizen, Bitchu and Bingo).
The spirit of the guardian kami was also shared with the principal shrine of Bizen Province (Kibitsuhiko Shrine) and the principal shrine of Bingo Province (another shrine also called Kibitsu Shrine).
For this reason, this shrine is said to be "the principal shrine of Sanbi" and "the guardian kami of Kibi.”
We do not know for sure when the shrine was built and by whom, as there are no documents on the subject, but according to one theory, Emperor Nintoku built the shrine to honor and enshrine Kibitsuhiko after hearing his achievements when coming to this place out of love for Kuro-hime, Princess Kuro who was Kibinoamabe-no-atai's daughter.
Our shrine and Kibitsuhiko Shrine have very similar names and are very close to each other, so they are often mixed up. There is also a shrine with the same name as our shrine in Shin-ichi, Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture. Both shrines have Kibitsuhiko-no-mikoto as their enshrined kami.
When Kibi Province was divided into three provinces (Bizen, Bitchu and Bingo), the spirit of Kibitsuhiko-no-Mikoto, the kami of our shrine, was also divided and enshrined in each province. Kibitsuhiko Shrine became the principal shrine of Bizen, and Kibitsu Shrine (in Fukuyama) became the principal shrine of Bingo. This shrine is the principal shrine of Bitchu, and is revered as the 'guardian kami' of Kibi Province.
The Main Hall and Worship Hall of this shrine are built in the same structure. The Main Hall burned down in a fire in 1351, but rebuilt around 600 years ago. The rebuilding was completed in 1425 under the orders of Yoshimitsu, the third Ashikaga shogun. Since then, the cypress bark main roof has been replaced about every 50 years, without any dismantling or repair.
The bronze statue next to the parking lot of our shrine is of Japan’s 29th Prime Minister, Inukai Tsuyoshi, who died in the May 15 Incident (1932). The name Bokudo is his penname.
His birthplace is located nearby, and his ancestor is said to be Prince Inukai Takeru, who contributed to the defeat of Ura and is enshrined here. This is the lineage of the dog who appears in the legend of Momotaro. He had great reverence for our shrine, and also wrote the calligraphy for our shrine name pillar. The bronze statue was erected in 1934 to watch over our shrine.
It is said to be around 600 years old. The leaves turn yellow at the beginning of November every year. Incidentally, it does not bear gingko nuts.
Our shrine's crest is the 5-7 Paulownia crest (a stylized paulownia with a pattern of 5-7-5 flowers), but it has nothing to do with Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi used a variety of paulownia crests. When he was a vassal of Oda, he used the 5-3 Paulownia crest, and when he had the family name of Toyotomi, he used the 5-7 Paulownia crest, and he also used the Taiko Paulownia crest.
The Main Hall is a National Treasure with one of the most diverse styles in Japan, and we also recommend taking a photo of the Long Corridor from the side of the Minamizuijinmon Gate. During the cherry blossom season, we recommend the cherry blossoms and the tiled roof of the Long Corridor. Photography is not allowed inside the shrine, but please feel free to take pictures in the grounds.
Please ask at the Prayer Reception Desk. We will give you information and an explanation.
Visiting the Shrine to Pray
The gate opens at 5am and closes at 6pm. During that time you can visit the shrine to pray.
The Reception Desk for prayers and seal stamps (shuin) is open from around 9am until 3pm.
There is no need to make an appointment for prayers. Every day, services are held every 30 minutes from 9am. Please make an offering of a minimum of 3,000 yen per prayer. Each prayer lasts about 20 minutes.
Please use the coin lockers in the rest area at the end of the Approach to the Shrine (lined with pine trees).
Wheelchair users can visit as far as the Main Hall. There is a parking lot for wheelchair users at the upper level of the vehicle purification area.
You often see people ringing a bell when they visit a shrine. The sound of the bell has the power to ward off evil, to purify the worshippers, and to make them feel connected to the kami.
The Worship Hall of our shrine does not have a bell, but it is said that ringing a bell only became an established practice after the war. When you visit the shrine, you are asked to go up to the shrine and have the priest offer a ritual prayer, and dedicate a kagura (ritual dance). So it could be said that ringing the bell is a simplified form of praying. Whether you have a bell or not, it is important to remember to give thanks and offer your heart with sincerity.
We have many kinds of omikuji (fortunes written on strips of paper) at this shrine, but the most common one is the "Inishihe mikuji.” Please draw the omikuji you are interested in.
About the Rituals
The Shichijugozensue Ritual is the food offering to the kami during the Grand Rites of this shrine. It is an event where rice, sake, fish and vegetables are offered to the kami. The Grand Rites are carried out in spring and autumn. The Grand Spring Rites take place on the second Sunday in May, and the Grand Autumn Rites take place on the second Sunday in October, from 11am.
This is one of the special rituals held on the third day of January every year. It is to pray for the safety of Kibi Province, a good harvest, and protection from disasters, by shooting arrows with white feathers in the four directions.
The ceremony had not been held for some time, but was revived in 1960 by the Okayama Prefectural Kyudo Federation, and is now held under the watchful eyes of visitors at New Year.
We start the procession at around 9am, and after the ceremony at the Main Shrine, we move to Yaokiiwa where the arrows are shot.
About the Grounds
If you go along the Corridor from the Main Hall, a corridor to Okamaden Hall branches off along the way. It was rebuilt 400 years ago and is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan.
There is a tradition that the head of the demon (Ura), who was defeated by the shrine kami, is buried here, and the Narukama Ritual that is performed here has been known throughout Japan since ancient times.
It is located on the mountainside in the middle of the Corridor. About 1,500 hydrangeas of several varieties are planted on both sides of the stone steps leading to the approach to Iwayamagu Shrine. The best time to see them is for about a month from the middle of June.
At the end of the Corridor there is also the Peony Garden. The best time to see the peonies is from late April to early May. In the grounds of the temple there are also satsuki azaleas, tsutsuji azaleas, cherry blossoms, and plum blossoms, giving us peace of mind and tranquility in every season.
Ushitoraonzakigu Shrine enshrines Ura and is located in the northeast corner of the outer sanctuary inside the Main Hall. It is the theme of a song in the Ryojin Hisho ('Songs to Make the Dust Dance on the Beams,’ an anthology of imayo songs): "The spirits of Kibitsu Shrine, Shingu Shrine, Hongu Shrine, Naiku Shrine, Hayatozaki, Kami-marouto of north and south, and Ushitora-misaki are terrifying."
As the guardian kami of the Main Hall, the four corners of the outer sanctuary are marked by the Ushitora-onzaki (northeast), the Inui-onzaki (northwest), the Tatsumi-onzaki (southeast), and the Hitsujisaru-onzaki (southwest), while the two corners of the middle sanctuary are marked by the Toshaku-onzaki (east) and the Seishaku-onzaki (west). Together, they are known as Rokusho-onzaki.
This is inside the Main Hall so it is not accessible to the general public, but you can view it on the app video.
If you wish to have your car purified (prayer for traffic safety), please park your car at the purification area, which is located next to the Kitazuijinmon Gate.
There is a driveway leading from the left side of the Temizuya (the place to purify your hands) in front of the shrine. Don't forget you need a license plate number with "Okayama 111 A 1425" when you apply for the prayer.
The Nosatsu-sho is located in front of the entrance to the Corridor, to the right of the Worship Hall. Please offer your gratitude and make a donation. We will burn them at any time.
There are five locations in total: behind the Shrine Office, near the vehicle purification area, next to Okamaden Hall, and two locations in the parking lot.