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The following is a guest post by Ryan A. Miller
On my last trip to Japan, I visited a popular shrine to a deity called Yami, which is a Japanese form of God.
The god of this region is called Yami-no-hado. YAMI means god, or deity, when translated into English; hao means god. And hado was the word that was used to translate the deity – the local people thought that Yami-no-hado and hao were the same.
The worship of Yami-no-hado began after the Great Northern War in 1618, when a Japanese soldier named Hida Yoshiko died and was buried in a wooden shrine on a hill top on the village of Hida (currently the town of Yamagata). As a mark of respect, he was cut in half and placed on the top of the hillside as a marker for the dead.
The god Yami-no-hado
A memorial stone was erected on the site of the shrine and he was enshrined as a part of the community. People would keep a special candle and light it at night. In 1625 – the year the Japanese conquest of Korea ended – a ceremony to welcome Yami-no-hado was held, and a wooden horse was placed in his grave beside the stone.
A ceremony on the spot was held on April 5, 1650. Japanese merchants and merchants’ children came together and danced to a yukata song – Yami-no-hado was the name of the folk dance. In the course of the day, the dancing continued into the evening, and on the 6th day of June, they were celebrating his rebirth. They decorated the shrine with candles, incense, and kiwi, as he was reborn as a goddess. The procession ended on the 8th day of June, his feast.
Yami-no-hado in 1650, with the wooden horse in front.
In 1651 the god was finally returned from the afterlife. He appeared, accompanied by many of the village deities