immortal wishes:
labor and transcendence
on a Japanese sacred mountain

Ellen Schattschneider

Duke University Press (2003)

Akakura Mountain Shrine

Akakura Mountain Shrine

Immortal Wishes
is based on Dr. Ellen Schattschneider's field research at Akakura Mountain Shrine (Akakurayama Jinja) on the lower slope of Akakura Mountain, at the southern end of the Tusgaru Plain, in Aomori Prefecture, northern Tohoku, Japan.

The shrine emerged out of a series of revelatory dreams experienced by a local rural woman kamisama spirit medium in the 1920s.  In time, this woman founded the shrine on Akakura's slopes, and has come to be revered as a divinity by shrine worshippers. To this day, the shrine is the site of healing rituals performed by kamisama spirit mediums and various other ceremonial performances. Many worshippers (most of whom are women)  undertake arduous period of ascetic discipline (shugyo) on the mountain's rugged, volcanic slopes.  Here,  they may behold visions of mountain divinities and demons, often closely associated with joyous and traumatic features of their own lives.  

Spiritual beings venerated at Akakura Mountain Shrine include: Akakura Daigongen, Fudo Myoo, The Five Radiant Lords (Godaimyoo) Ryujinsama (Dragon) and the Dragon Princess, Kannonsama, Kobo Daishi, and the shrine foundress, sometimes referred to as the "Great Mother."

The shrine has a senior (honke) branch, established by the original foundress, and a junior (bunke) branch founded by another great kamisama spirit medium.

Internet Resources on Shinto Shrines

Shinto Shrines (Jinja)

Jinja (Shrine)

This helpful entry explains the major compoments of a Shinto shrine. From the Glossary of Shinto Names and Terms
A helpful on line dictionary of Shinto terms, prepared by the Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University

Shinto Shrines (CyberShrine)


Website developed by Ellen Schattschneider (Brandeis University)