Nichirin (Hinowa) Jinja 日輪神社 にちりん（ひのわ）じんじゃ
This ancient shrine of Hida is on a small yama or a steep hill in Nyuukawa, near Hidakinomiya shrines, although it is not one of them. Its origin is unknown. Some say it is a pyramid mountain. We’re inclined to this possibility, as perhaps our photos will show. Its height is 728m. It is right off Route 158. You can’t miss it. What you’ll see is a conical hill covered with trees, and a kaidan going straight up. The kaidan turns into a tree-root kaidan, and it is a long climb up to the keidai shrine grounds. The keidai is not at the top of the yama, but near the top. There is a flat area for the haiden prayer hall, honden behind it, and other buildings.
This is said to be a pyramid yama power spot. 16 pyramid yama surround Norikuradake, and megaliths and pyramids radiate from Nichirin. It may be a pyramid because of its conical shape, steep sides. See photos. There is a sazare-ishi, a boulder formed from pebbles and a symbol of unity, one out of many.
Nichirin にちりん is the onyomi Sino-Japanese reading of 日輪. Hinowa ひのわ is kunyomi, the original Japanese. Hi ひ, of course, is Sun. The other kanji means wheel or circle, and is read wa わ. Thus, hinowa is very meaningful in this sun-oriented culture. The word, hinowa, has ancient origins. It is found in the Hotsuma Tsutae:
ame tuti no hirakeru toki no
hi to iki ga: me wo to wakarete
wo ha ame ni, me ha tuti to naru.
wo no utuho kase umi, kase mo
ho to wakare. uwose no mune ha
hi no wa naru. i me no minamoto
tuki to naru. tuti ha hani mitu;
katu hani ha yama sato to naru.
This beautiful verse is speaking of the beginning of sky and earth. In particular, it states that the breath of the great uwose (male) energy becomes Hinowa, Sun, while the essence of ime (female) becomes earth.
The goshintai sacred body of this shrine is the mountain itself, and the gosaishin enshrined kami is Amaterasu, kami of Sun. The haiden and the kaidan face the general west direction of the summer setting sun, around 300 degrees. This means that the worshipper will be facing east. The origins of the Hinowa Shrine are very ancient. Perhaps people gathered here even before Shinto began and the kami Amaterasu was introduced. We can imagine that there may have been winter solstice sunrise ceremonies, now lost to us.
This place feels very mysterious. When in front of the haiden, we are are in deep shadow of sugi trees. The grounds are not large, and so we feel enclosed with the circle of trees, with the sides of the yama falling steeply downward. With the sun setting near the kaidan, we feel that this is a strange time when it is neither day nor evening, but kataware-doki, as they say in the Hida dialect for twilight. when all things are possible.