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Kenkun Shrine

Enshrined Deities



Enshrined Deity Grand Minister of the Senior First Rank
Lord Oda Nobunaga (1534 - 1582)
Sub-deity Second Grade of the Third Rank
Lieutenant General of the Imperial Guards of the Left
Lord Oda Nobutada (1557 -1582)
Place of Enshrinement Kyoto City, Murasakino District, Mt. Funaoka
Divine Virtues Grand god who oversees the peace & security of the nation as well as the safety of its people;
In general, the shrine gods are revered for miraculously responding to prayers related to realizing great ambition, granting better fortune, getting through difficult situations, showing leadership in business, and warding off disaster.

History

The World of the Warring States Period

450 years ago in the latter half of the 16th century, Japan was in the midst of a period referred to as the Sengoku Jidai, or the Warring States period, as the power of the Muromachi Shogunate waned and local feudal lords secured their own territories and fought with each other. On the road to war, the entire country became a battlefield and even the city of Kyoto was constantly razed by fire, with most of the capital reduced to ashes along with the hearts of its people. Even the Imperial Palace was laid to waste, and it reached a point where the Imperial Household of Emperor Ōgimachi could not fulfill its ceremonial duties and fell into decline.

 Oh, evening skylark of the Kyoto fields / I wonder if you may know what I feel /
 Even just looking up towards you / All that falls down are my tears

  - A poem composed about the devastation of Kyoto by Iio Tsunefusa (also known as Hikoroku Saemon)

Lord Oda Nobunaga’s Unification of the Country

In the third year of the Tenbun era, 1534, Oda Nobunaga was born as the oldest son of Oda Nobuhide, a lord accumulating a considerable amount of power in the southern part of the Owari Province (modern day western Aichi Prefecture). By the second year of the Eiroku era, 1559, Lord Nobunaga had united almost all of the Owari Province, and in May of the third year, 1560, he defeated Lord Imagawa Yoshimoto of the neighboring Suruga Province in the Battle of Okehazama, embracing his ambition of uniting the entire nation of Japan.

The Revival of Kyoto

In the tenth year of the Eiroku era, 1567, Lord Oda Nobunaga captured Inabayama Castle and thereby subjugated the Mino Province. In 1568, the eleventh year of the Eiroku era, he proceeded to enter Kyoto under imperial edict from Emperor Ōgimachi, there beginning repairs of the imperial residence. In order not to burden the imperial court with matters of revenue, he took charge of public finances and without overly taxing the people lent his support to the reconstruction of Kyoto City.

Military Policy

Along with his ideal of unifying the country, Lord Nobunaga also introduced a career soldier system, separating the social class of soldier and farmer and gathering people to him regardless of what position they held by virtue of birth. He dedicated his efforts to improving Japan’s production of firearms, the construction of warships equipped with cannons, and other technological developments in order to create an armed force with a high maneuverability. In the first year of the Genki era, 1570, he successfully defied the Azai and Asakura clans at the Battle of Anegawa and in 1575, the third year of the Tenshō era, won the Battle of Nagashino by defeating Takeda Katsuyori, continuing to subjugate the remaining provinces.

Economic Policy

Lord Nobunaga concentrated considerable effort on the commercial development of those areas he conquered in order to encourage trade, establishing free markets, closing sekisho barrier stations on the highways that restricted the movement of the people, repairing the roads, and putting a system of currency in place. In the later Edo period there was vigorous trade and booming travel of people and goods along the highway routes, and it is said that Lord Nobunaga’s pioneering economic policies enabled this, as well as the modern day economic development of Japan, to occur.

Separation of Church and State

Working towards the difficult task of separating religion from government, Lord Nobunaga had to go up against a secularized and militant group of Buddhists who had taken up arms in order to interfere in politics. He set the temple of Enryaku-ji alight, suppressed Jōdō Shin-shū (New Pure Land Buddhism) uprisings in each province, and entered into negotiations for peace with Ishiyama Hongan-ji temple, taking away the political and military power of such groups. Separation of church and state is one condition for a modern nation, and in Europe such efforts only began to advance after religious wars in the 16th to 17th centuries, providing evidence of Lord Nobunaga’s sense of leadership and foresight.

Foreign Policy

The 16th century is referred to as The Age of Exploration, and during that time Portugal and Spain set out to establish colonies all over the world. In 1543, guns were first imported into Japan, followed by Christianity in 1549, and in the latter half of the 16th century Portuguese merchant ships often docked in Japanese ports. Lord Nobunaga first met with a Christian missionary in the 12th year of the Eiroku era, 1569, and from that point on he allowed the construction of churches and seminaries. While he used missionaries to learn scientific knowledge and grasp the state of world affairs, he kept his distance and avoided dependence upon them, advancing his own economic and military strength and preventing the colonization of Japan.

Other

Though Lord Nobunaga took in Western culture, he also supported theater, tea ceremony, the game of Go, horsemanship, falconry, sumo, and other traditional Japanese arts, providing some sense of stability to people’s hearts during that troubled period. He also undertook repairs of Iwashimizu Hachimangu and Atsuta Jingu, as well as supported the revival of the long ceased shikinen sengu tradition of reconstruction at Ise Jingu.

Nobunaga’s Great Legacy

In this way Lord Nobunaga brought an end to the Warring States period, paved the way for the unification of the country, saved the common people from the despair of ruin, revived traditional cultures on the brink of dying out, kept an eye on distant European civilization, accurately grasped the state of world affairs surrounding Japan and bolstered the military strength and wealth of the country, leading Japanese history from the chaos of the Middle Ages into the daybreak of modern times.

In order to create a world of peace and plenty, Lord Nobunaga held firmly to his beliefs and looked at things in perspective instead of allowing himself to be contained by the generally accepted ideas of his time. Pursuing the ideal of a Japan that revered the emperor for the good of all people, he reformed the old government that had reached the limit of its usefulness, maintained public order, and abolished corruption in religious order. Truly, had it not been for Lord Nobunaga’s transcendent knowledge and decisive actions, Japan’s modernization would have been significantly delayed.

Sadly, Lord Nobunaga’s great exploits died with him in the grey morning of June 2nd, 1582, when he lost his life during the Honnō-ji Incident.

The Great Funeral Service Hosted by Hideyoshi

When he heard the news of his lord’s death, Toyotomi Hideyoshi immediately moved to defeat the man behind the Honnō-ji Incident, Akechi Mitsuhide, at the Battle of Yamazaki, and then held a grand funeral service for Oda Nobunaga that lasted seven days at Daitoku-ji temple in Murasakino. Furthermore, in order to console Lord Nobunaga’s spirit, Hideyoshi moved to build a temple on top of Mt. Funaoka and install a statue of Nobunaga, given the name Tenshō-ji by Emperor Ōgimachi. However, construction was halted halfway through and the land was instead kept as sacred ground for Lord Nobunaga’s spirit until the Meiji Restoration period.

The Establishment of a Shinto Shrine by Emperor Meiji

In the second year of the Meiji era, 1869, an imperial proclamation from Emperor Meiji announced the establishment of a shrine dedicated to Lord Nobunaga in light of his leading the country from a period of war towards unification, restoration of the ceremonies of the Imperial Palace, and other great achievements. In the third year of the Meiji era, 1870, the shrine was given the name Takeisao Jinja (now called Kenkun Shrine), and in the eighth year of Meiji, 1875, it was granted the status of an Imperial Shrine of Special Status and granted sacred land on Mt. Funaoka. In the thirteenth year of the Meiji era, 1880, a new shaden sanctuary was constructed and Lord Nobunaga’s heir Lord Oda Nobutada was enshrined there. In the forty third year of Meiji, 1910, the buildings that were originally at the base of the mountain were moved to the top of Mt. Funaoka, where they are today.

Henceforth, the noble soul of the peerless hero Lord Oda Nobunaga resides atop Mt. Funaoka, revered as a kami presiding over the peace and tranquility of the nation as well as the safety of its people.

Lord Oda Nobutada

Lord Oda Nobutada was born as the eldest son and heir of Lord Oda Nobunaga in the third year of the Kōji era, 1557, at Kiyosu Castle in the Owari Province. He undertook his genpuku coming of age ceremony in the third year of the Genki era, 1572, and in that same year, after participating in his first battle during the campaign against Lord Azai Nagamasa of the Ōmi Province, he contributed to victories in the Siege of Nagashima against the Ikkō-ikki religious faction and in the Battle of Nagashino. In the third year of the Tenshō era, 1575, Lord Oda Nobunaga decided to turn over the headship of the Oda family to his son, and in the next year Nobutada received control over the clan lands of Owari and Mino provinces. Lord Nobutada established his base of operations at Gifu Castle and engaged in battles across the land against such forces as the Saika mercenaries of the Kii Province and feudal lord Matsunaga Hisahide, and in the tenth year of the Tenshō era, 1582, he played an active role in the vanguard in the fight against Takeda Katsuyori.

Returning home triumphant after overthrowing the Takeda clan, Lord Nobutada was recognized by his father as one who performed most distinguished services in the Kōshū (Kai) Province campaign, and he was entrusted with even more duties as Nobunaga’s successor. Sadly, on June 2nd of that same year, Lord Nobunaga lost his life during the Honnō-ji Incident after being betrayed by his retainer, Akechi Mitsuhide. Having entered the capital and stayed the night at Myōkaku-ji temple, when Lord Nobutada got word of the attack he rushed towards Honnō-ji, changing course to regroup at the Nijō Imperial Palace. Upon confirming the safety of Prince Sanehito, Nobutada engaged Mitsuhide’s forces, dying in battle at the young age of twenty six.