Past Exhibitions

Origin Legends of Kitano and Itsukushima Shrines
December 18, 2018 - January 27, 2019

This exhibition features dramatic legends associated with the founding of two of Japan’s most famous Shinto shrines as they are described in medieval illustrated handscrolls. Kyoto’s Kitano Shrine (Kitano Tenmangū), founded in 949, worships the deified historical statesman and poet Sugawara no Michizane (845 –903) as a god of learning. Itsukushima Shrine, located on the island of Miyajima off the coast of Hiroshima—and known today for its iconic red torii gate in the bay—is dedicated to the three Munakata goddesses (daughters of the sun goddess Amaterasu). It was supposedly founded in 593 and developed under the patronage of the powerful warriors Taira no Kiyomori (1118 –1181) and Mōri Motonari (1497–1571).

Japan is home to an enormous number of large and small shrines worshiping nature, ancestors, spirits, and the flourishing of local families and businesses. It may surprise you to learn that two of its most august shrines are associated with such epic and extraordinary origin myths.

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