MT. FUJI SHINTO GODDESSES
(富士山, Fujisan, Mount Fuji）
"Lo! There towers the lofty peak of Fuji|
From between Kai and wave-washed Suruga,
The clouds of heaven dare not cross it,
Nor the birds of the air soar above it.
The snows quench the burning fires,
The fires consume the falling snow.
It baffles the tongue, it cannot be named
It is a spirit mysterious."*
Konohana Sakuya Hime (木花之開耶姫, Princess Blossoms of the Trees)|
(Citations from "Sacred Mountains of the World,"
Bernbaum, University of California Press, 1997)
"Impressed by its purity of form and extraordinary height, Buddhists
found in Fuji a sublime symbol of meditation. The word they used to
describe its summit, 'zenjo' (禅定), is a Buddhist term for the flawless
state of perfect concentration. Just as the peak of a mountain soars
above the mists that gather in the valleys below, so a person in
meditation rises above the passions and illusions that obscure the vision
of ordinary people. The Japanese say that the clouds that cover the
tops of other peaks only curl around the foot of Fuji. Its summit, a lofty
place of contemplation, provides an attractive sanctuary for the deities,
who dwell there free from the sorrow that trouble the world below."
"The fire ceremony [marking the end of the mountain climbing season
on August 26] has its origins in the earliest known myth about
Konohana Sakuya Hime, the principal goddess of Mount
Fuji. According to the 'Kojiki', the great 8th-century AD
compilation of Japanese mythology, she married a god who grew
suspicious of her when she became pregnant shortly after their
wedding. To prove her fidelity to her husband, she entered a benign
bower [in the volcano] and miraculously gave birth to a son, unscathed by the
surrounding flames. The [fire] ceremony at Fuji-Yoshida
recalls this story as a means of protecting the town from fire and
promoting easy childbirth among women.
"Konohana Sakuya Hime originally had little or no connection with
Mount Fuji. Sometime between the 14th and 16th centuries, the belief
arose among the people of the region that she would protect them from
eruptions of the volcano as she had her newborn son from the flames of
the burning bower. During the Tokugawa period, between 1600 and
1868, the Fuji-ko [Fuji mountain-climbing] movement
confirmed Konohana Sakuya Hime as the principal goddess of the
sacred mountain. She is now the central deity in major Shinto shrines at the
base of the volcano and on the rim of its crater. Fuji-ko members
worship her at altars in their homes, and each group lights a torch in
her honor at the fire ceremony of Fuji-Yoshida."
*Poem (top) from A Waka Anthology, Vol One: The Gem Glistening Cup,|
trans. and commentary by Edwin A. Cranston, 1993).
Photo (top): Mt. Fuji from the west, near the boundary between Yamanashi|
and Shizuoka Prefectures, from Wikipedia Commons, public domain
Songs of The Shamaness (Princess Nukata)|
Idiophonics (Natural Sounds) in Early Japanese Women's Poetry, Bibliography
Women Zen Masters Otagaki Rengetsu
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