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Sugawara Shrine

How to get

Get off the #10 bus (Ogi-sen) at "Sugahara Jjinjya Iriguchi" bus stop. Turn from the bus route to west towards Hamochi River. Cross the bridge and turn right to get to the red Torii gate. As shown in Photo.54.1, Torii gate can be seen from opposite side of the river.

Photo.54.1 Torii Gate of Sugawara Shrine

Annual Festival is on June 15th, Year Prayer festival is on February 25th, and New Harvest Festival is on October 25th1). There used to be a Noh stage in the shrine area. A poet/critic O’omachi Keigetsu visited this shrine in 1924 and read

"A bush warbler is singing, and I see a Noh stage of a tiny village of just ten houses"2)
. Although a stone monument of this Haiku is there, Noh stage itself was lost by the fire3).

Photo.54.2 Hall of Worship of Sugawara Shrine

This is a shrine that is famous for its traditional live performance "Tsuburosashi" which is played on June 15th. 'Tsuburo' means the vital part of male. 'Sasu' comes from 'Sasuru' which means 'rub' or 'jerk off' kind of verbs. Holding a Tsuburo between two legs, the performer dances comically as a prayer for good harvest of the year. Daikagura-Tsuburosashi in Sugawara Shrine was designated as a Cultural heritage of Niigata prefecture in 1977 together with Onimai-Tsuburosashi in Kusakari Shrine4). In Sugawara Shrine's, three performer dance: Male with face mask and Tsuburo of 75 centimeter length (2ft 7inch), Lady with face mask and bamboo-made Sasara-Bar, and Hemp hood Lady who is ugly but with physical beauty. A lion and Shito Priest come out before the performance. The dance was learned in Kyoto and brought there in Ouei Era (1394 - 1428) 5). Although everyone can think of, a book says the common interpretation of this performance is a triangular relationship6).

Photo.54.3 Shinmei-sha and Mitsumine-sha in Sugawara Shrine

Please note that the following part has little relation to Sugawara Shrine. If there is a common thing, both are of Hamochi area. The following is added just for filling the space.

[Topic 1] Tale of "Happyaku Bikuni"7)8)

Story tale of Happyaku Bikuni has been handed down in many places in Japan. Happyaku means 800: the story is about a lady who lived 800 years because she happened to eat meal of mermaid. The following is the Sado version of Happyaku Bikuni story. Her home was (still is) in a village by the shoreline between Hamochi and Akadomari. One day in the past, villagers gathered and had a party on the beach. And then a stranger came out and asked villagers to let him in. He was pleased and invited villagers to his party. On the day of his invitation, villagers were blindfolded and taken somewhere like Dragon King's palace deep in the sea. Villagers were served by good food there. During the party one villager went to a restroom and on the way he peeped into kitchen. To his surprise, chefs were cooking human children. The guy went back the dining hall and told other villagers what he saw. They wanted to go home. At the end of the party, each villager was given a souvenir. They were taken back to the village, again blindfolded. The villagers knew that human fresh was inside the package. Everybody threw it at the beach and went home. But one elderly carelessly brought it to his home. A girl in the house, 17 year-old, had eaten it without knowing what it was. After that, she had never got old. She survived her relatives but she would not die. She became a female priest and went to Then-Fukui, Country of Wakasa. Her life was 1,000 years, but she gave 200 years to the landlord of the region. And she died at 800 years old in the cave of Kuuin Temple in Obama-city, Fukui Prefecture7)*8)*.

An episode was added to Sado's Happyaku Bikuni story. She missed her home and came back once from Fukui. She was refused to go in the village because no one knew her. In order to proof that she had really lived in the village long time ago, she told the villagers the place that foreigners were buried in old times. Villagers dug the ground and, as she told them, they found corpses. It is believed that those buried foreigners were "Mishihase People" who were northern people lived in the basin of Heilongjiang River9). There was a record that Mishihase people came to Sado. It was reported in December 544 by Then-Niigata, Kosi-no-Kuni, the mainland opposite to Sado island, saying "Mishiase people stay at the horn of Minabe of Northern Sado island. They are on board one ship -----" 10). The second record of foreign people’s arrival was on September 2nd , 753, of Bokkai/Bohaiguo/Balhae people11). It does not necessarily mean that Happyaku Bikuni’s home village was the place where Mishihahe people approached. The added part of episode to the Happyaku Bikuni story meant that foreign people’s arrival in ancient times left a strong impression to Sado islanders. 12).

The above [topic 1] is not about Sugawara Shrine. Sorry if it seemed to be confusing.