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kyonoki - 京のキー 300 boars come to the rescue

kyonoki

京のキー 300 boars come to the rescue

300 boars come to the rescue

Goo-jinja enshrines Wake-no-Kiyomaro, a heroic figure who, under the divine command of the deity of Usa Hachiman Shrine, blocked the scheme of Yuge-no-Dokyo (a power-grabbing Buddhist priest) to usurp the imperial throne in 769. Below, I have told Kiyomaro's story as best I can (thanks to Etsuyo for translating the pictures pasted to the front of the shrine, that tell Kiyomaro's tale). The most fantastic part of the tale is the role 300 boars played in protecting the young man from certain death and dealing out justice to his would-be assassins. Instead of protective dogs (Komainu), the shrine venerates guardian boars. People pray to the boars for recovery from illness (and injuries to the legs), safe journies, and a life free from accidents and mishap.

When Wake-no-Kiyomaro was a child, he and his older sister Hiromushi-hime were told by their parents that their ancestors were great people, instructing the two of them to serve the Emperor. It was decided that Kiyomaro was to go to the capital at Nara. Hiromushi-hime served the Emperor by becoming a nun and changing her name to Houkin. That year a terrible famine led to the abandonment of many children. Houkin helped save these children from certain death. She rescued 83 children in all, raising them as if they were her own offspring.

Meanwhile, a priest by the name of Yuge-no-Dokyo became involved in politics for his own selfish benefit. It was suggested that he had gone as far as trying to seduce the Empress Koken (the affair and disastrous claims of Dokyo to the throne caused a law to be made forbidding women from ascending any higher than consort, meaning they could not rule in their own right any longer). Intimidated, the courtiers did everything they could to appease him. One day a messenger arrived with a divine edict from Usa Hachiman Shrine, ordering that Dokyo be named Emperor (perhaps an indication of religion dabbling in politics). The Emperor ordered Kiyomaro to verify the truth of the message.

Dokyo asked for Kiyomaro’s assistance in attaining his goal, promising to appoint Kiyomaro to a high-ranking position when he became Emperor. Kiyomaro’s friend, Michi-no-Toyonaga, said that he would not be able to go on living should Dokyo’s wish come true. Kiyomaro became determined to aid the Emperor. Before he left for the Usa Hachiman Shrine, Mushihiro-hime offered encouragement, saying that his mission was an important one and that he should focus and do his best.

Having arrived in Usa, Kiyomaro prayed fervently at the Hachiman Shrine. He heard the words of the gods: 'The kami (gods) of this land make a strict distinction between lords and subjects. A subject cannot, under any circumstances, become Emperor. You must fend off those who would turn their backs from the true path”.

Kiyomaro returned to the capital, announcing the word of the kami to the Emperor. Meeting him upon his return, Mushihiro-hime was pleased at her brother's achievement. Enraged, Dokyo sent Kiyomaro to Oosumi (Kagoshima Prefecture) and Mushihiro-hime to Bungo (Hiroshima Prefecture). He then sent his men after Kiyomaro, hoping to kill him along the way.

Before the assassins reached Kiyomaro, a sudden, tremendous storm sent everyone scrambling for cover in terror. It delayed the would-be attackers plans and allowed Kiyomaro safe passage for most of his journey. While traveling the mountain path in Buzen (Oita Prefecture), Kiyomaru was mysteriously surrounded by a herd of 300 wild boars who escorted him, guarding him from the front and from behind. The assassins failed in their task.

Kiyomaro did not forget the Emperor for one moment while in Oosumi. Fujiwara-no-Momokawa sent him rice to cheer him up. All the time he prayed that all would be well.

While living in Bungo, Mushihiro-hime was sent dried persimmons, a present from the children she had raised. It lifted her spirits and she knew that fortunes were changing for the better.

After just over a year had passed, a messenger from the Emperor arrived, calling back Kiyomaro and Mushihiro-hime back to the capital. Dokyo was exiled to Shimotsuke (Tochigi Prefecture) after the Emperor wrestled control of the country back.

Kiyomaro and Mushihiro-hime’s services were in great demand. Emperor Kanmu moved the capital from Nara to Nagaoka to what is now Kyoto, and Kiyomaro served as a director of the new capital's construction. The reason for the move was in part because of holy men like Dokyo attempting to wrestle control away from the imperial family.

The new capital was fabulous, and Emperor Kanmu made his home there. Kyoto prospered for over a thousand years as Heian-kyo. Goo Shrine is where Wake-no-Kiyomaro and Mushihiro-hime are worshipped. Fujiwara-no-Momokawa and Michi-no-Toyonaga are also enshrined here.

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Rhod and Ki's tour of life in Kyoto, Japan.

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