Oyama Jinja 尾山神社
The secret cult
On a small piece of wood a little girl is writing her wish. "Winning the next gymnastics competition!". Like thousands of Japanese, she puts here faith in Maeda Toshiie, deified spirit at Oyama Jinja Shrine.
A gate of three arches marks the entrance to this sacred place. Curved roofs in true Asian style are accompanied by church-like stained glass. No, you are not dreaming. This tower was built in 1875 by a Dutch architect who wanted to mix the influences of Japanese, Chinese and European religious architecture. It is truly innovative and aesthetic. The tower was a lighthouse before being transferred to the sanctuary of its present site. Today, it marks the landscape with a commanding presence.
Founder of the Maeda clan (the most powerful in the Kanazawa region), Maeda Toshiie died in 1599. The spirit of his admired character was then deified at the Oyama sanctuary. But as the Tokugawa clan had just taken power, they saw as a threat any demonstration of power by the lords of the area, which had been defeated in an attempted revolt.
Rituals took place in secret to deify the spirit of Maeda safely. Officially, the sanctuary was dedicated to the deity Hachiman, while locals made clandestinely tributes to their chief protector Maeda. This region's history can be admired inside the complex with statues, and an exquisite garden. The garden adorns the sanctuary with a touch of greenery and freshness with its small pond with wooden walkways. Visitors can take a floating walk over the pond, and satisfy their senses with the sound of water and the sight of lanterns carved identical to that of Kenrokuen. Urban sounds are muffled in this cocoon, a holy place for the body and mind.