Check out the new site from The Temple Guy!

.

Sacred Sights


Main Page

"Monkey Shrines"

Hie Shrine, Akasaka, Tokyo, Japan

 

When you see a gateway at a temple or shrine that has bays on either side, you expect them to be occupied by human figures.  Well, not in this gate at Hie Jinja in Tokyo:

This shrine is dedicated to Sanno (meaning "Mountain King") Gongen.  He dwells on Mt. Hiei, between Kyoto and Lake Biwa.  This is also the home mountain of Tendai Chinese Tien-tai,  Buddhism so many of Japan's 3400 Hie Jinjas are built in proximity to Tendai temples, meant to protect them.

Sanno's messenger is a monkey.  So, although the bays on the outside of the gate above contain the typical warrior figures, here are the occupants of the bays on the inside:

That's right: monkeys.  Clothed, kind of creepy-looking monkeys.  The female on the left cradles a baby in her arms; male and female both hold implements used in Shinto rituals.  The monkeys--especially the female--are patrons of harmonious marriage (my best friend Reiko was married at this shrine) and safe childbirth.

 Continue to Next Sight

Return to Sacred Sights Main Page

Return to Buckets of Light Main Page

Return to The Temple Guy Main Page