Akama Shrine is the foremost shrine in the Shimonoseki area and enshrines the Emperor Antoku, the 8-year-old Emperor who drowned at the Battle of Dannoura on March 21st, 1185.
This famous naval battle was decisive in concluding the Genpei War with the Minamoto (Genji) clan led by Yoshitsune, defeating the Heike (Taira) clan. The battle was fought in the straits directly in front of where the shrine is now.
Until the early days of the Meiji Era (1868) and the almost complete make-over of the Japanese religious landscape, Akama Shrine was in fact a Buddhist Temple called Amida-ji, and the architecture reflects this. Most impressive is the entrance gate Suitenmon (Water Heaven Gate). The front area of the inner shrine (honden) is also unusual in that it is a shallow pool.
The shrine looks and feels almost new because it is! The shrine was rebuilt only 50 years ago.
Another legend associated with Akama is that of Hoichi the Earless, a ghostly tale known by many through its inclusion in Lafcadio Hearn's Kwaidan. The story is set in the cemetery of Amida-ji and there is a shrine and statue of Hoichi to the left of the main shrine.
The Sentei Festival is held here in the first week of May, and includes a procession of courtesans to commemorate the Taira women who became prostitutes in order to pay for their dead relatives funeral rites.
Tel: 0832 31 4138
Akama Shrine is a short bus ride from central Shimonoseki, get off at Akamajingu-mae bus stop.
Entrance is free.
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Friday, December 28, 2007