The Usa Shrine

The Usa Shrine (宇佐神宮)was located in the province of Buzen (豊前)in the north-east of Kyushu. It is the principal shrine to the deity Hachiman 八幡, one of the major deities of the Shinto pantheon, and the divine guardian of Japan who sent the kamikaze which destroyed the Mongol invasion fleet in the fourteenth century. Hachiman is actually a combination of Emperor Ôjin (応神天皇), the fifteenth emperor, and his mother, Empress Jingû (神宮皇后), who legendarily carried him in her womb for three years while she led Japanese forces in the conquest of Korea, and is regarded as the deity of writing, culture, war, divination and protection. Hachiman’s antecedants as an Imperial ancestor and his role as a guardian meant that annual offerings were made to him by the court.

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