There are two special things to tell about Omi Jingu, the shrine located at the foot of Mt.Usa and overlooking a beautiful view of Lake Biwa. The first one is the Japanese card game called Karuta, you absolutely know this if you are a fan of Chihayafuru comic. Actually, Chihayafuru itself has brought international attention to karuta. It has taken place here at Omi Jingu shrine since 1950s, the Japanese national championship tournament of karuta, originating in the event Emperor Tenji composed one of the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (Hundred Poet) poems used in karuta.
Nowadays, they call it Karuta Meijin and Queen Tournament, the competition searching for the male winner, so call Meijin and the female winner, or Queen of Karuta. On the first Saturday and Sunday after the New Year holiday, Omi Jingu becomes crowded with karuta games in which the standing recites one of the poems and the contestants have to find and claim the card written with this poem. There is also the national championship for high school students held every July.
Karuta Meijin and Queen Tournament
The second speciality of Omi Jingu is that the shrine has a close tie with the definition of time in Japan. The very first water clock system was introduced at the shrine by Emperor Tenjin, called Roukoku. Nowadays, they even construct a Clock Museum inside the precinct of the shrine, in an unique style of a shrine museum with lacquered wood mixing white wall structure, exhibiting various clocks centering on roukoku and Japanese clocks as well as holding Water Clock Festival in honor of the first water clock in Japan. This special relationship between Omi Jingu and Japanese time also help Omi city to be considered as the birthplace of time in Japan.
We have talked so much about the Emperor Tenji then who is he and what is the link between him and Omi Jingu shrine? Tenji is the 38th Emperor, ruling the reign from 662 to 672. His name Tenji means deep, heavenly and limitless wisdom and actually, Tenji can be considered as the greatest man of Taika period as the founder of first Omi Statute, the first census register, statesman of socialization to land and people, founder of the first national school, certainly, inventor of Water Clock "Rokoku", philosopher on time concept, discoverer of coal and petroleum. People recognized Tenji as the creator of happy time and patron of industry, culture and traffic safety. Later in 1940, people constructed Omi Jingu enshrining him in the site of Capital Otsu.
The first water clock
Omi Jingu can be approached by a long and steep stairs leading to the Romon gate. This brilliant red lacquer gate can be considered as the most outstanding structure of the shrine as well as. They say that the architecture of the shrine establishments including the main hall, prayer hall, worship halls, which the inner hall and outer hall are linked by a corridor, and the inner gate are typical structures of the modern shrine architecture.
-Shrine ground: freely access
-Clock museum: 300 yen