This shrine is dedicated to the practice of “Misogi,” cleansing. Misogi is an ancient art of Shintoism which has been passed down to us by our enshrined deity, Masakane Inoue.
Misogi can mean standing under a cascading waterfall, immersing oneself in the ocean or bathing in a river. Yet, the highest goal of Misogi is to clean one's mind, destiny, and soul. Once you are “clean,” it is possible to spend each day with joy and vitality.
The concepts of “clean” and “dirty” are the basis of Japanese thought. By cleansing ourselves for a period of time, we can start life anew. No matter how bad things get in life, you can always return to the good. By cleansing ourselves completely, we can achieve health, good relationships, academic success, and prosperity.
We pray that many people will come to this shrine to cleanse themselves. By practicing Misogi, while becoming one with nature, we can return to our true nature and thereby get closer to God or become godlike in this life.
What is Koshinto?
The basis of true Shinto can be found in Japan’s deep past. Koshinto is based on humanity’s connection to the natural world. The word "Ko" means “genuine.” Koshinto is the core of Shinto. It is also the origin of Japanese beliefs and way of life. It is a concept that is in the cultural DNA of all Japanese people.
Philosophy of Misogi Shrine
Shinto is the Japanese way of life. It is the Japanese spirit, which is inculcated in Japanese people from birth. This is why we say that Shinto is the faith of life that takes heaven, earth, and nature as its scriptures. Shinto can be compared to the love of Christ and the compassion of Buddhism. To have faith is to cherish what is important in life.
Shinto is a way of living for those who cherish a life enlightened by the rich and varied nature of Japan throughout the seasons. This spirit and way of life is expressed in stories and rituals. It has been passed down through the generations as Japanese culture.
In this time of conflict, murder, disease, and natural disasters, the world has not yet been freed from anxiety. In the midst of the awakening of this age, the ancient Shinto shrine of Hongu Misogi Shrine was established. The Shrine was located in the center of the Japanese archipelago, at the southern foot of Mt. Yatsugatake, as a sacred place to transmit traditional Shinto wisdom to the world of the twenty-first century.
The enshrined deity of Misogi Shrine was relocated here from Tokyo in 1989. The axis of the temple complex is 178 degrees from north to south, so the highest light and energy of the rising sun can be received by the Shinto sanctuary. In the depths of this area, there is a sacred boundary that confronts and communicates with the gods of nature. At the center of the shrine buildings is the Misogi-den, the core of Shinto theology.
When Chinese characters were introduced to Japan, the Kojiki was the first book to be transcribed and then reproduced. At Misogi Shrine, we perform fire and water rituals in accordance with the profound principles of the Kojiki. Everything in the universe is born and nurtured in the unity of light (fire) and water. The way of life as a human being must be to respect light (fire) and to cherish water. Misogi Shrine’s Fire Hall, enshrines light (fire), and its Water Hall, enshrines water. These are the divine presence that awaken the tradition of the Japanese people's way of life handed down in the Kojiki, the ancient scriptures of Japan. It is interesting to note that the Chinese characters for fire (火) and water (水) can be pronounced “ka” (fire) and “mi” (water), which sounds identical to the Japanese word for God “Kami” (神).
According to tradition, when the god Izanagi was exposed to the impurities of Hades and subsequently immersed himself in the river for purification, he said:
"The upper rapids are swift, the lower rapids are slow. Misogi Hall is located in the middle.”
Although shrines often have a kagura-den (stage) where ritual dances are performed, Misogi Shrine’s Noh theater, built on the pond below the rapids, is recognizably unique.
This is one of the best Noh theaters in Japan. It is a complete reproduction of the Noh stage constructed by Zeami, who founded Noh six hundred years ago. The Shinto bridge at the center of the sanctuary connects the realm of the divine with our world. It is our sincerest belief that it is best to offer the complete form of Noh to the gods while simultaneously transmitting it to the mortal world. By performing Noh in this theater, we aim to bridge the divide between heaven and earth so everyone can be a part of Noh in the twenty-first century.
Yasuyoshi Sakata, Chief Priest