Aso Shrine – the mythical guardian deity of Mount Aso that has existed since 2,300 years ago

Aso Shrine

Introduction of Aso Shrine

Aso Shrine is located in Aso City, Kumamoto Prefecture, and is one of the shrines in Higo Province, and is the headquarters of 450 Aso shrines in Japan.
It was founded in 281 B.C., which is quite old. It is said to have been built by the order of the 7th Emperor of Japan, Emperor Filiali.

The second son of the first emperor, Emperor Jinmu, who also appears in the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan), is said to have ruled over Kyushu, the original stronghold of the Aso clan.
The son of this god, Yasui Mimi-no-mikoto, is enshrined in the Aso Shrine as Kenpan Ryu-no-mikoto (Takeshi Watatsu no Mikoto).
It is said that Kenpan Ryu-no-Mikoto married Asotsuhime, the princess of Aso, and her son, Hayamikatama no Mikoto, built the Aso Shrine for his parents.

Incidentally, Kamihajai Mimi no Mikoto is enshrined at Kusakabe Yoshimi Shrine, and as a shrine, Kusakabe Yoshimi Shrine may be older.

Aso Tsuhohime is Aso Tsuhohikonomikoto (goddess) in the “Two Temples" (right hand side) of Aso Shrine, and Kenpan Ryuuminomikoto (male goddess) in the “One Temple" (left hand side).

Aso crater is thought to be related to the goddess Ceoritsuhim (god and goddess of the god and the goddess of the god and the goddess of the firewood).

According to the legend, Aso was called “Caldera Lake" in those days, and it is said that Kenpan Ryu-no-Mikoto (Aso Grand Myojin) kicked the lake’s water out and let it flow to the west.
The place where he is said to have said, “Don’t stand," with a mochi, is Tateno in the west of Aso.
It is said that a huge catfish was cut and washed away, and I can’t help but imagine that the weir of the lake may have been cut off by the earthquake.


On the other hand, Aso Tsuhime-no-mikoto is also said to be the daughter of Takei Hatatsu of Koekuni, which means “guardian of the country of Heguni", and was consecrated to Hoho-demi as a yuna (parting gift) and became a queen.

The word “preserve" means “to present".

As the name suggests, Takei Hatatsu is already a Kenpan Ryu, but in this tradition, her daughter is Aso Tsuhime.

Then, Aso Tsuhohime married Hochodemi.

This hoho-demi is said to be the Hikoku-hihidemisama.
As you can see, the story was told 2,300 years ago, and there are many different traditions and theories.

Hayamikatama-no-Mikoto, the son of Kenpan Ryu-no-Mikoto, is enshrined as the eleventh shrine of Kunozo Hayamikatama-no-Mikoto and is the ancestor of Aso Kunozo.

In any case, the Aso clan of the Aso Shrine is said to be the last descendant of Kunozo, who has such a tradition, and developed into a small monarch as Aso Kunozo as well as a Shinto priest from early on.

In the Heian period (794-1185), the surname of Uji was used, and in the Enki period (794-1185), Uji Tomonari was transferred to become the Aso Grand Minister and succeeded the Grand Minister of the Aso Shrine.
In the Kamakura period (1185-1333), a warrior group established a great power in Kumamoto, and the authority of Omiyaji became powerful.

In addition, the stronghold of the Aso clan is not the Aso shrine, but the beach pavilion of the Yamato town, so it is a completely different place.

Although the Aso clan was attacked by the Shimazu family in the Warring States period, Kato Kiyomasa, who entered Kumamoto Castle, and Hosokawa family, who became the lord of Kumamoto clan, donated the shrine’s domain and built and repaired the shrine.

The current chief priest of Aso Grand Shrine is the 92nd Aso Haritaka.

Sightseeing Aso Shrine

On April 16, 2016, the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake completely destroyed the Aso Shrine’s two nationally important cultural properties, the Loumon Gate and the Hall of Worship, as well as three temples on the grounds.

It is currently being rebuilt and donations are being accepted.
There are three shrines in the precincts: the Kan-go-mon, the Tower Gate and the Goko-mon, facing east.

However, when I visited Aso Shrine in October 2017, the shrine was under construction for reconstruction and many parts of the grounds were off-limits due to heavy machinery.
Because of this, it was difficult to visit almost everything, such as a visit to the shrine at the “temporary shrine".

The tower gate, which is one of the three largest tower gates in Japan, was an 18-meter-high, two-story mountain gate.


However, it collapsed in the Kumamoto earthquake and was under demolition when I visited.


The “Wishing Stone", which is said to be ancient, is located on the right hand side of the shrine.

It is considered to be a power spot, but we were not able to go inside because of reconstruction work.

Incidentally, it is said that the pine tree of the marriage tie will bring good luck if it is passed around twice from the left for men and twice from the right for women.


Transportation to the Aso Shrine

Access to Aso Shrine is about a 15-minute walk from Miyaji Station on the JR Kyushu Hohi Honsen Line.

The Hohi Main Line between Higootsu and Aso Station in Kumamoto Prefecture was severely damaged by the Kumamoto earthquake and has been out of service for a long time.

At the time of writing, the service between Mie-cho Station and Nakahagata Station in Oita Prefecture is also closed due to Typhoon No. 18 in 2017, so please get the latest information.

Between Aso and Mie-cho, the train that was left behind in that section operates on a special schedule, but the number of trains seems to be about two to four a day.

You can also get off at Miyaji Station by “Express Yamabiseko-go" between Kumamoto Station, Kumamoto Airport and Oita Station, and there are 8 buses a day.
It takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes from Kumamoto Airport to Miyaji Station by bus.

Parking is free in the first and second parking garages.
IMG_6914Map of Aso Shrine