echigonagaoka> Sado Island> Watatsu Shrine
Get off the #10 bus (Ogi-sen) at "Ichinomiya Iriguchi" bus stop. "Ichinomia" implies Watatsu Shrine and "Iriguchi" means an entrance, but the bus stop is by no means the entrance of the shrine. It is too far to call it an entrance. You still need to walk several kilometers to get to the shrine. Note that there are two bus stops "Ichinomiya Iriguchi", one for Mano and the other for Ogi. They are in two different places as shown in the map. From either bus stop, find a way so that you walk along Hamochi River to upstream. You will see the sign board at the corner to turn to the Kusakari shrine on the way to Watatsu Shrine. Then the river and the road get apart; River goes left. When two meet again, the road crosses the river in front of the shrine.
Photo.51.1 Watatsu Shrine
Annual festival is on April 23rd, Year prayer festival is on March 23rd, and New harvest festival is on November 23rd1). In the annual festival, a Shinto ritual of shooting an arrow from horseback is done2).
Watatsu shrine was one of nine shrines that were listed on the national shrine list "Engishiki Jinmeichou" in 927. However, the old history of the shrine is not sure because the old document were lost by the flood in1470. The enshrined god is Itakeru-no-Mikoto who was a son of Susano’o-no-Mikoto. According to the legend, when Shinto gods descended onto the land, the father god "Susano’o" and the son god "Itakeru" went to Korea with seeds of trees. But they could not plant all the seeds on Korean land. So they brought the remaining seeds back to Japan, started planting from Chikushi, old-Kyushu, and finally they had planted seeds all over Japan. Of course this story is a mythology, but perhaps it might have some reflections of incidents in very old history.
A book written by the association of Shinto shrines in Sado reads that the cypress timbers from Taiwan was used for buildings such as the covering roof of the main hall, the hall of offerings, and the separated prayer hall in the project in 1930's. Those buildings were completed in 1937 3).
Photo.51.2 Hall of Worship of Watatsu Shrine
Since this website is targeting not Japanese but foreign people as viewers, some explanations are to be made. 1937 was the year when Japan went into a full war against China. And Taiwan had been colonized by Imperial Japan since 1894 until 1945. On the process of colonization, Japan killed so many Taiwan people. It is said that more than ten thousand people were killed in the five months until Japan declared full control on November 18, 18954). And more, 32,000 Taiwanese were killed by Japanese forces during the term of Goto Shimpei who was a high rank Japanese official to control Taiwan. The death toll was equivalent to 1.5% of Taiwanese population at the time5). Not only on colonization process but in Asia-Pacific war, many Taiwanse lost their lives by Imperial Japan. 80,000 Taiwanese fought and 127,000 employees worked for Japanese forces. Approximately 30,000 died by the combat or disease6).
Back on the topic of Watatsu shrine, it is good to make a detour to Kusakari shrine on the way to Watatsu Shrine. Kusakari Shrine is famous for its traditional live performance "Tsuburosashi" which is played on June 15th. In the same day, another "Tsuburosashi" is also performed in nearby Sugawara Shrine. The two 'Tsuburosashi's were designated as a Cultural heritage of Niigata prefecture in 19777). Photo.51.2 shows Noh Stage of Kusakari shrine.
Photo.51.3 Noh Stage of Kusakari Shrine