Even after all these years of research and travel, the variety of the Japanese spirituality still amazes and delights me…
The group of three Shinto goddesses Ichikishimahime no kami, Tagitsuhime no kami and Tagorihime no kami are known in Japan as Munakata and are considered protectors of sea travelers. But they have another, completely different role, as… deities of women’s beauty. There is a connection between these roles though, the prayer ritual is still related to the power of water: before praying, the visitors must drink water from the fountain in front of the shrine.
Their shrine is an auxiliary of the Yasaka-jinja from Kyoto and it is called Utsukushi-gozensha, from utsukushi which means “beautiful", gozen - “women” and sha - “shrine". According to a local legend, the scars of a woman who prayed here were cured and she became a real beauty…
So the shrine is known to be popular with the apprentice geisha (maiko) and is even visited by people working… in the beauty and cosmetics industry.
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: