Traditional Culture of Japan - Portal site of traditional crafts and culture

Amatsu Shrine

 

Bizen ware developed in the town of Inbe, located in Bizen City, Okayama. In Inbe, there is a shrine — known as Amatsu Shrine — that has connections to Bizen ware.

 

If you get off at Inbe Station and proceed north, you will dead end into a road that runs east to west. This road is lined with a great number of Bizen ware shops and galleries. If you proceed east, you will see Amatsu Shrine come into view, which is a shrine you can reach in about 10-15 minutes on foot from the station.

 

The history and grounds of Amatsu Shrine
Bizen City’s Amatsu Shrine was built in 1411, and is a historic temple that developed in conjunction with the history of Bizen ware.

 

Originally, Amatsu Shrine was located in an area known as Bizen City Urainbe, but when a plague broke out in the town of Inbe, the village elder at the time had a divine vision, and in 1579 the shrine was relocated to its present location.

 

Enshrined in Amatsu Shrine is the god Sukunahiko, said to bring about tranquility in connection to illness, medicine, and medical care. Afterwards, this location would also become a private manor of the Sugawara Clan, and later on the temple would also come to enshrine Sugawara no Michizane, the god of scholarship.

 

Further, since the shrine is located in the birthplace of Bizen ware, the shrine grounds are flush with it. A guardian dog made of Bizen ware welcomes visitors at the entrance to the shrine.

 

 

But not only that, if you walk around the shrine you will notice that everything — from the tiles paving the path leading up to the shrine, the quietly tucked away gate, the tiles used on the roof, all the way down to the countless engravings buried in the walls — is made of Bizen ware.

 

 

 

Climb the stairs and the main building will come into view. In contrast with old, quaint approaches, the main shrine building gives off a novel, crisp, contrasting impression.

 

Once you make it here, take a stroll around the surrounding areas too, not just the main shrine building. You will see Bizen ware objects on display like the “Fertility Dogs” (a prayer charm for safe and healthy childbirth) and the Seven Gods of Fortune (seven Japanese gods that bring about good fortune).

 

 

You can see from the amount of Bizen ware on display that Amatsu Shrine has been worshipped by many potters all the way down to the present day. The unique reddish-brown of the Bizen ware that exudes the earthy-colored atmosphere will create an impression on you that you just can’t get a taste for at other shrines.

 

When there are Bizen ware festivals and events, Amatsu Shrine sometimes hosts tea ceremonies and other activities. You can get a real taste for the ultimate in luxury afforded by being surrounded on all sides by Bizen ware – itself having grown out of the tea culture – while enjoying a nice tea with Bizen ware equipment.


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