Not far from the center of Ashikaga, on the hillside of Mount Orihime, stands a magnificent Shinto shrine. It is the Ashikaga Orihime Shrine. Orihime is a romantic name. In fact, the shrine is said to be popular as a match-making shrine. In textiles, warp and weft threads are woven together to form a single fabric. This is probably why it is easily associated with marriage.
Ashikaga has been famous for its silk production since the end of the Heian period (794-1185), but it wasn't until the 1700s that textile production really took off, with the arrival of high quality machines from Nishijin in Kyoto in the early 1700s, and the production of high quality silk fabrics, popular silk and cotton interwoven fabrics, and cotton fabrics flourished. The shrine was built in 1705, just as the textile industry was beginning to flourish.
The people of the time built the shrine as a guardian deity for the emerging textile industry. The deities enshrined at the shrine are Amamiboko-no-mikoto, who has been in charge of weaving since ancient times, and Yachiyohime-no-mikoto, who used to weave and dedicate textiles for the imperial palace. I thought they were enshrining Orihime and Hikoboshi, who appear in the Tanabata legend, but that was not the case. It's true that Orihime and Hikoboshi can only meet once a year, so it's not really appropriate for a matchmaking ceremony.
Standing at the entrance of the Orihime Shrine, I saw a flight of stairs beyond the torii gate. To reach the shrine, I had to climb 229 stone steps. Despite the romantic name, it was a shrine where you had to overcome a severe ordeal before you could visit.
|Oct 2021 IN THE CITY TOCHIGI|
|APPROACH ASHIKAGA OLD MAN SHRINE STAIRWAY TORII|
October 12, 2021
SONY ALPHA 7R II
ZEISS BATIS 2/40 CF