Credits to Research Team : Mendel Lim
Prefecture this week: Nishinomiya, Hyōgo.
As we know that Japan has lots of shrines. Nishinomiya shrine is one of them, but this shrine is especially unique and a bit different than other shrines. Along with 3,499 shrines that enshrine Ebisu as a deity. Miho shrine in Shimane, Ebisu shrine in Kyoto, and Nishinomiya shrine in Hyogo are the three biggest Ebisu shrines, where many people come to visit and pray for their prosperity.
Nishinomiya shrine has been known for Ebisu: the god of wealth as the enshrined deity that blesses prosperity and rush of business for people since Heian period (from year 794 to 1185). There are two kinds of gods in Ebisu. Kotoshironushi an ancient Japanese god and Hiruko-gami.
When Ebisu is written as 恵比寿 or 恵比須, that means Kotoshironushi: an ancient Japanese god who was a son of Okuninushinomikoto: the deity of magic and medicine celebrated at Izumo grand shrine. You will see an image of this Ebisu on a label of a glass of Sapporo Ebisu beer. On one hand, when it’s written as えびす様 or 蛭子, it refers to 蛭子神, Hirukogami. According to Japanese mythology, Hirukogami was born between Izanami and Izanagi who produced many other gods in japan. Hiruko couldn’t stand even when he was three, so he was abandoned into ocean. And he was celebrated as a god at where he was drifted. Nishinomiya shrine is the grand head shrine of Hirukogami. This is how the myth of Hirukogami originates from.
*Nishinomiya Shrine also hosts the Fuku Otoko Erabi ‘The lucky man race’ a ceremony held on January 10 and is very famous. Males’ line up outside the main gate to the temple as early as 4am to race to the main building of the temple when it opens. The first man reaching the main hall is called ‘Ichiban Fuku’, the luckiest man.