The History of Ojiyama Makekirai-Inari
Ojiyama Makekirai-Inari is a shrine in Kawaramachi, Sasayama, an area where numerous traditional monuments and buildings from the past are preserved. The shrine is close to Ojiyama Park and on the east side of the Sasayama Castle remains. Sometimes called Makekirai Shrine, there is a rather unusual legend surrounding the origins of this shrine.
The story leads us to the first half of the 19th century. A special sumo match held in front of the shogun was organized in Edo (Tokyo’s former name). The sumo wrestlers supported by the Sasayama feudal lord were losing one after the other, when all of a sudden a group of wrestlers appeared in front of the feudal lord - it was Heizaemon Ojiyama, and his fellow wrestlers.
To much of everyone’s surprise, all of their matches ended up as victories! After having witnessed such a marvelous turn of events, the lord wanted to reward them for their effort and skills, but they were nowhere to be spotted. He found out later on that the names of the great wrestlers were exactly the same as the names of some of the local Inari shrines.
It’s believed that it might have been Inari, the god of harvests, trying to help the lord who hated losing. Nowadays, this shrine is said to be a power spot that answers prayers regarding job-hunting, competitions, exams, and success in business, as well as other victory-related wishes, which are governed by the god Inari.
The Miracles of Ojiyama Makekirai-Inari
Perhaps the most beautiful scenery at this shrine is the impressive row of torii gates, starting with the stunning red and gloriously large ones and leading the path towards the honden (the main shrine building). It is a sight truly befitting the Japanese concept of beauty and elegance mixed with tradition.
Somewhere in the middle of two-hundred step staircase lies a small shrine called Hirayoshi-Inarisha. It is believed that this shrine protects the health of one’s legs and loins. Toward the end of the stairs, you’ll find a shrine dedicated to protecting children, where visitors can entrust prayers regarding safe birth or the children’s well-being. This is the so-called Kishimojinja Shrine.
Across this shrine lies Tsunetomi-Tennosha, whose deity is believed to be the protector of scholars and education. Further on, you’ll notice the main shrine, Inari-Honden, where Dakiniten, the god protector of the earth, is enshrined. This god is said to bring good results relating to any kind of match, battle, or competition. It also keeps visitors safe and helps one recover from diseases.
On the opposite side of the honden is Makekirai-Heizaemonsha, a small shrine marked with a dohyo, the distinctive sumo-wrestling ring.
Further on, you’ll notice a walking route named Makekirai Road that leads through Ojiyama Park. For an exciting and delightful experience, let the path lead you through the surroundings - in spring, you’ll be welcomed by cherry blossoms, during the rainy season by elegant hydrangea flowers, and in the fall, the foliage ought to mesmerize visitors with its bright colors.
A visit here is an excellent opportunity to take in both the “makekirai”, or the “winning” power, and the captivating scenery of Ojiyama’s nature.
Ojiyama Makekirai-Inari (Ojiyama Heizaemon Inari Shrine)
Address: Sasayama, Kawaramachi 92
Phone number: 0795-52-0655
Access: get off at Sasayama-guchi Station of JR Fukuchiyama Line, then ride the Shinki Green Bus bound for Sasayama, get off at Tatsumachi bus stop, and walk for about 10 minutes.