Kashiba City
Kashima Shrine's Keichinza Document


Important Cultural Property Designated by the Nara Prefectural Government
Kamakura Period

Kashima Shrine lies on the right side of the crossing of National Road Routes 165 and 168, some minute's walk to the north from Shimoda Station on the Kinki Nippon Railway Osaka Line.
The Shrine is dedicated to the god "Takemikazuchi no Okami," popularly known as "Kashima-daimyojin." According to legend, in 1172 Kashima Kojiro Masamitsu, a retainer of Minamoto Yoshitomo, invited here the god of Kashima-hongu Shrine from the Hitachi Province (now Ibaragi Prefecture); with great delight, villagers were said to cook food for the celebration and hold a festival.
A document written during the early Kamakura Period shows that since olden times Kashima Shrine has continuously maintained an organized group of parishioners (ujiko) called "Keichinza." (A shrine parishioner group is generally called miyaza.) Keichinza has maintained its unique tradition for about 800 years.
Although there are many valuable old documents left in shrines and temples, Kashima Shrine's document regarding miyaza is the oldest private document of its kind. In 1962, it was designated as an important cultural property by the Nara prefectural government and is now in the custody of the Nara National Museum.
The shrine buildings have all been renovated recently. The shrine's autumn festival is held in October each year under the leadership of representatives of the parishioner group. In the festival, children parade on the streets of Shimoda, carrying portable shrines. In January, a grand bonfire is made and visitors to the shrine can enjoy a lottery and sacred sake offered free of charge.

Source: The Kashiba municipal government


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