Akaiiwa Shrine is a shrine located in Nanbu Town in western Tottori Prefecture, a town rich in both nature and culture. It is more than a thousand years old, and is a shrine dedicated to resurrection. This connection comes from a “resurrection myth” that features in the Kojiki (“Records of Ancient Matters”), a collection of tales said to be Japan’s oldest historical record.
Long ago, a deity known as Okuninushi lived in this land. His brothers lied to him, telling him a giant red boar lived in the mountains and they would chase it down to him, so he needed to catch it. Actually, it was a boulder they had heated up until it glowed red, and when Okuninushi caught it, he was burned so horribly that he died.
His mother, greatly saddened by his death, begged two female deities to save him. They came down from the heavens and brought him back to life, and following this, Okuninushi went on to become the leader of an area that spread through the San’in, Sanyo, and Hokuriku regions.
The place where Okuninushi was brought back to life is right here at Akaiiwa Shrine. Three characters make up the shrine’s name: aka (“red”), i (“boar”), and iwa (“boulder”), which makes it clear that the name comes from the resurrection myth set here.
From this, the shrine to this day is known as a place with a connection to resurrection and recovery, and many worshippers come here from around the country to pray for good fortune in recovery or in making a fresh start.
Also, the boulder that Okuninushi is said to have been forced to catch is enshrined on the shrine grounds. However, so as not to defile the land here, it is buried deep underground, under many layers of other large boulders. Furthermore, there is a fence around the area where it is buried, and a shimenawa, or holy rope, is wound around the boulder at ground level. This is all done with the following lesson in mind: “One must never forget to be careful of the origins of misfortune.”
Akaiiwa Shrine is a shrine that has its origin in a brutal incident from the past, but also has continued to bring good fortune and teach an important lesson to all who visit there.