Atsuta Jingu (Atsuta Shrine), familiarly known as Atsuta Sama (Venerable Atsuta) or Miya (the Shrine), has been one of the greatest centers of worship in Japan from ancient times. Visitors to the shrine, including those who practice the conventional New Year visit, now count nine million annually.
The enshrined deity Atsuta-no-Ookami is Amaterasu-Oomikami as represented by the sacred sword Kusanagi-no-tsurugi, one of the three sacred treasures that symbolize the Imperial throne. The tradition says that this great god, by the divine decree of the god of creation Amatsu-mioya-no-Mikoto (Heavenly-Father-God), manifested for the first time the way of gods to this world and blessed mankind with the virtue of love.
Also enshrined are the "Five Great Gods of Atsuta", all of whom are mythologically connected with the sacred sword. Among them, are Takeinadane-no-Mikoto and Miyasuhime-no-Mikoto, first parents of Owari-Uji, indigenous people of Nagoya and its neighboring districts. These two gods are said to have shown many divine virtues in accordance with teaching of Amaterasu-Oomikami.
Atsuta Jingu was originally founded about 1900 years ago, when the sacred sword Kusanagi-no-tsurugi, one of the Imperial symbols, was enshrined. Atsuta was chosen as the site for the shrine by Miyasuhime-no-Mikoto, daughter of Owari-no-kuni-no-miyatsuko and wife of the then Prince Yamatotakeru-no-Mikoto, who had died leaving the sword in Hikami.
Ever since Atsuta Jingu has been specially revered by people, ranking second only to the Great Shrine of Ise. The shrine has not only enjoyed special privileges of the high official ranks of Myojintaisha and Chokusaisha, but it has also won popularity among people, who call the shrine by the familiar name of Miya (the Shrine). Moreover, the geographical character of the fertile Owari Plain has fostered a faith in Atsuta Jingu as protector of agriculture. This can be testified by the fact that many of the festivals and divine services show close connection with popular life centering around agricultural industry. Here lies the characteristic feature of this shrine.
The shrine buildings were maintained by the effort of devout generals of successive times, such as the Shoguns of Muromachi and Edo Shogunates, Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and the Tokugawas, ruling family of Owari district. In 1893 the shrine was remodeled into Shinmei-zukuri structure, the same style of building as the Great Shrine of Ise. On the occasion of Sengu celebration in 1935 the shrine buildings as well as other facilities were completely rearranged and improved so that it came to assume the grandeur true to the Great Shrine of Atsuta. During the World War 2, however, more of its buildings were destroyed by fire.
After the war the reconstruction was begun by the combined effort of all devout worshippers of the shrine all over the country. The main buildings were completed in 1955 to enable Hondensenzasai to be celebrated there. The remaining construction was steadily under way to perfect the shrine as a great spiritual center equipped with modern facilities for cultural activities as well.