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Akama Jingu: A shrine dedicated to children and the sea

By Elizabeth Sok

Located in Yamaguchi Prefecture’s Shimonoseki City, Akama Jingu is a Shinto shrine with a unique appearance that records a key moment in Japanese history. Dedicated to children and the sea, this site is a great option as you explore the nearby Karato Market.

Emperor Antoku

Image: PIXTA/ kazukiatuko

Enshrined at Akama Jingu is the young ruler, Emperor Antoku. Almost a thousand years ago, two groups who struggled to attain dominance across Japan and the imperial court were engaged in a conflict called the Genpei War. Although it would only last about five years at the end of the 12th century, it was a significant transition in the history of the country with the victorious Minamoto clan defeating its rival, the Taira clan, bringing an end to the classical Heian period and launching the Kamakura period.

In one of the final engagements of the war, a naval battle that took place at Shimonoseki Strait, the losing Taira brought out the six-year-old emperor to boost morale. Ultimately, the Taira lost the battle and the larger war soon after, but not before the boy’s grandmother drowned him and herself once defeat appeared to be certain to avoid capture as Minamoto forces closed in.

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© GaijinPot

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