Hachiman Ōkami

I have mentioned in my essays that Hachiman Ōkami is actually several kami, and not always the same ones. A few weeks ago, I received a leaflet from the organisation of jinja in Amakusa, several islands just off the cost of Kyushu, which lists all 31 jinja in the area with resident chief priests, together with their kami. There are a few Hachiman jinja (Hachimangū), but they have a wide range of kami. (The names below are transcribed from the kanji, because the leaflet doesn’t give readings. That means that the jinja may not read the names this way.)

Shiki Hachimangū
Hondawakë no Mikoto, Okinagatarashihimë no Mikoto, Takëuchi no Sukunë no Mikoto
Hontobaba Hachimangū
Ōjin Tennō, Tarashinakanagahiko Ōkami, Okinagatarashihimë Ōkami, Takëuchi Ōkami
Ōmiyaji Hachimangū
Ōjin Tennō, Susano’o Ōkami, Gongen Ōkami
Ōë Hachimangū
Ōjin Tennō, Jingū Kōgō, Ichikishimajhimë no Mikoto, Takirihimë no Mikoto, Takitsuhimë no Mikoto
Icchōda Hachimangū
Ōjin Tennō, another eight kami
Ushibuka Hachimangū
Ōjin Tennō, Associate Kami (Takiribimë no Mikoto, Ichikishimahimë no Mikoto, Takitsuhimë no Mikoto)

The first thing you will notice is that they all enshrine different kami, despite all being Hachimangū in the same, fairly small, area. Hondawakë no Mikoto and Ōjin Tennō are different names for the same kami, and that kami is the one who often gets referred to as “Hachiman”. I do, however, know of a jinja called Wakamiya Hachimangū that does not enshrine that kami.

Okinagatarashihimë and Jingū Kōgō are both names for Ōjin Tennō’s mother. Tarashinakanagahiko is almost certainly Chūai Tennō, his father, although it is not quite the standard name. Takëuchi is an important minister who served Jingū Kōgō and Ōjin Tennō. Ichikishimahimë, Takirihimë, and Takitsuhimë are the three kami of Munakata Taisha, in a number of variant spellings, and it is not uncommon for one or more of them to be enshrined as Ōjin Tennō’s bride. Susano’o is the younger brother of Amaterasu Ōmikami, and normally has no particular link to Hachiman. Similarly, Gongen was a Shinto-Buddhist term for kami that were a manifestation of a buddha, and so could indicate almost any kami. Obviously, I can’t say anything about which kami “another eight kami” are, but because there are eight of them, they are clearly not the same as the kami enshrined at any of the other jinja, even if there is overlap.

This is a particularly stark example of the theological diversity of Shinto.

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