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Early in the 8th century, Emperor Shomu ordered construction of a temple at the unlucky “Demon’s Gate” northeast of the capital, Nara. Named Konsho-ji, the temple was established on a sacred mountain (a mountain inhabited by a deity) that provided protection for the state. The deity ruling over the district was enshrined in Tenjin-sha Shrine. This was the name of Ono-jinja in earlier times. Japanese history tells of the arrival and spread of Buddhism. As in Tenjin-sha Shrine, Shintoism and Buddhism came to exist side by side. Coexistence continued until proclamation of the Edict for Separation of Shinto and Buddhism, in 1868. As a result of the Edict, Shinto and Buddhism were steadily set apart, and Tenjin-sha was renamed Ono-jinja. Even so, the tradition of harmonious coexistence of Shinto and Buddhism is still maintained at Ono-jinja Shrine.
Sugawara-no-Michizane was a court scholar, poet and political figure of the late 9th century. In 897, he stayed at the shrine during a visit to Konsho-ji Temple as an envoy of the emperor. Due to this connection, and Sugawara’s deification after his death, a shrine dedicated to Sugawara was built within Tenjin-sha next to the shrine for the Deity for Water. Established in the middle of the 10th century, the added shrine was named Ono-miya Tenmangu. This became the Ono-jinja Shrine of today. The Main Hall, Worshipper’s Hall and Two-Storied Gate are typically seen at Tenmangu shrines – shrines dedicated to Sugawara-no-Michizane.
Later, although the time of construction is unclear, another shrine was built in the precincts. The latest shrine was dedicated to three deities: Izumo Okami (Deity for Matchmaking), Ebisu Okami (Deity for Commerce) and Hachiman Okami (Deity for Martial Arts). This shrine still stands today.
Even now, the deities enshrined in Ono-jinja are revered for their blessings in scholarly achievement, in agriculture, in ruling the weather, in competition, and other areas of life. Festivals and rituals dedicated to the deities have been maintained since olden times.
Construction / Era
This is the oldest wooden two-storied gate of all temples and shrines in Shiga Prefecture. It was built early in the Kamakura Period (1185-1331) and displays the architectural style prevailing at the close of the preceding Heian Period. Presenting the face of the shrine, the Gate has a hipped and gabled roof shingled with cypress bark. Worshippers pass through the Gate, which is supported by two rows of pillars left and right.
Main Image: Standing statue of Eleven-Faced Kannon
(end of Heian Period)
Flanking image: Standing statue of Bishamonten
Flanking image: Standing statue of Fudomyo-o
“Arashi” is a popular group of five male singers / entertainers in their 20s. Visiting shrines that have the same name as a member of the group is currently a popular pastime among fans of Arashi.
Here is a list of connections with Ono-jinja:
・ The leader of Arashi is called Satoshi ONO (Family name is Ono).
・ The name of one of the shrine priests is Satoshi OMIYA.
・ The name of another Arashi member is Kazuya NINOMIYA.
・ Satoshi Ono and Kazuya Ninomiya formed a singer sub-unit within Arashi and the unit had been dubbed Omiya SK (Satoshi / Kazuya).
At some time a rumor emerged: “After worshipping at Ono-jinja I was able to obtain a ticket to an Arashi concert!” The rumor spread, and now the shrine is flooded with Arashi fans on days when concert tickets are put on sale. Fans can be seen booking tickets over mobile phones. Many people also dedicate votive tablets inscribed with such messages as “Please let me go to the concert,” and “My prayers for the good health of all Arashi members.”
Ono-jinja differs little from other small and quiet shrines located all over Japan. Today, though, the shrine is drawing visitors from throughout Japan and even from abroad.