Image of the Kashima Deities Departing to Kasuga

Image of the Kashima deities departing to Kasuga
Muromachi period, the 14th century
Nara National Museum

This painting scroll portrays the two deities departing the eastern provinces to Kasuga Shrine. According to the history of the shrine, Takemikazuchi-no-Mikoto, the first of the four deities of the shrine, was invited from Kashima in the Hitachi Province (modern Ibaraki Prefecture) and arrived riding a white deer in 768. In the Japanese mythology recorded in the histories such as Kojiki and Nihon-shoki in the 8th century, he was described as a sword spirit and a martial deity. Futsunushi-no-Mikoto, the second deity invited from Katori in the Shimousa Province (modern Chiba Prefecture), is also portrayed in this image. The deities are visualized as noblemen mounted on white deer. The two men depicted in the lower-right part of the image are priests of the shrine, Nakatomi-no-Tokikaze and Nakatomi-no-Hideyuki.

By Noboru Ogata, Kyoto University

Reproduced by courtesy of the Nara National Museum. Unauthorized reproduction of the image is prohibited.