echigonagaoka> Sado Island> Ushio Shrine
Get off the #2 bus (Minami-sen) at "Ten'oh Shita" bus stop. There are two entrances for Ushio Shrine; the main entrance and Agata side entrance. The main entrance can be approached from west side. As shown in Photo.67.1, walk a little from the bus stop towards Niibo direction. Note that this photo shows the bus stop for Niibo/Mano/Sawata bound. On river side is there a stone column with four Chinese characters that are Ushi-O-Jin-Ja.
Photo.67.1 Ten'oh Shita Bus Stop to go to Ushio Shrine
Another entrance is at the north of the mound of the shrine as shown in Photo.67.2. This entrance can be a good shortcut if you go to Homma's Noh Stage next, or you come from Homma.
Photo.67.2 Back Side (Agata Side) Entrance of Ushio Shrine
The followings1) refers to an A4 sheet of paper put at the shrine for an explanation. Ushio Shrine, also known as Ten'oh-san, started by receiving part of spirit of Izumo Taisha in 792. Enshrined gods are Susanou-no-Mikoto, O'okuninushi-no-Mikoto, and Sukunahikona-no-Mikoto. Other three gods are also enshrined. The shrine has been believed by the islanders from the old times as a shrine of gods who bring a good homeland to live, courage, good matching with partner, prosperities of many businesses, and avoidance of diseases and disasters. The shrine name had been Hachiouji-guu-Gozu-Ten'ou-Sha in the old times, was changed to be Gatakami Shrine in 1873, and then changed again to be Ushio Shrine in the following year 1874. The shrine buildings were burned by the fire in 1899, but quickly rebuilt. Noh Stage shown in Photo.67.3 was built in 1901 and designated as a cultural heritage of Niigata prefecture.
Photo.67.3 Noh Stage of Ushio Shrine
Shrine's main hall has wooden sculptures on its beams as shown in Photo.67.4. It is said that these sculptures cannot be carved again2). Also there are some treasures in Ushio Shrine. Two Noh face masks, white and black, are said to be made in Muromachi Era (14-16th century), although who made them is unknown. An old tale says; one day Noh performance was played with these masks in order to pray for rainfall. All of a sudden the Dragon King came out from the lake and ran after the performers. Tried escaping away from the Dragon, performers ran, ran, and ran. At last they got back to the shrine and threw the masks into the hall. Then it began to rain. After that, tradition says once you bring that Noh masks outside, you will get a strong rainfall3).
Photo.67.4 Carving of Ushio Shrine
There is a big cedar tree in the shrine area. The brochure of the shrine says the tree is one thousand years old, but another book says it is 400 years old4). The tree showing us strength of a life is an object to pray for easy delivery and a healthy baby. It is called "Anzan-Sugi". Expecting parents are hanging wooden plates with words of prayer as shown in Photo.67.5. Shrine's yearly schedule is as follows; Prayer festival on February 7th, Prating the Year festival on February 26th, Annual festival on June 13th, and New harvest festival on November 26th.
Photo.67.5 Japanese Cedar Tree to Pray for a Good Delivery