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This is one of the most superb old shrines of Japan with a history that is said to go back more than 2,000 years and is also the origin of the name Omiya (literally, “large shrine”) as a grand Shinto shrine. As Musashi Ichi-no-miya (which means “top ranking shrine in the Land of Musashi”), it is a center of religious faith in the Kanto area and bustles with activity as crowds of people make their first visit of the year during the New Years holidays. In addition, Omiya Takigi Noh (noh theater by firelight), a regular event at the shrine, is held in May every year, luring the audience into the world of mysterious profundity.
According to a brief outline of the shrine, it was established during the reign of the fifth emperor Kosho more than 2,400 years ago and it is said to have been designated “Musashi Ichi-no-miya” at the time when the “ichi-no-miya” (top ranking shrine) system was first established in all of the lands during the reign of the Emperor Shomu about 1,200 years ago. In unquestionable documentation, it is recorded as a Myojin Taisha (shrines that enshrine gods known as Myojin considered to have had especially remarkable miraculous effects since long in the past) in the Engishiki Jinmyocho, a code of laws compiled in 905, midway through the Heian period, at the command the Emperor Daigo. In more recent years, the Emperor Meiji visited the shrine in 1868, participated in a ceremony himself and, by imperial decree, established the shrine as a guardian shrine of the nation. Later, in 1871, it was included among high ranking shrines supported by the emperor. In regular annual ceremonies, a messenger from the Imperial Household is sent to the shrine and the ceremonies are conducted solemnly.
In addition, shrines with the same name, “Hikawa Shrine,” are found in various locations in Saitama, Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefectures centered in Omiya, numbering a total of 280.
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