Is it a shrine? Is it an object of worship in itself? Is it in fact complete?
Or was it left unfinished? There are many mysteries surrounding the miracle rock “Ishino Houden”.
Height: 5.6m, Width: 6.5m, Depth: 7.5m.
Recent research estimates that its volume is 203.5 cubic meters, and its total weight around 500 tons.
When you look closer at the back part of Ishino Houden, where there is a triangular protrusion, it looks like a roof of a house. There is a hypothesis that claims that it is still in unfinished state, and this part is in fact the top and what is front part today is meant to be the bottom. If it is detached from the bedrock and turned so that the protrusion comes to the top, it does look like a large house.
Is it a house-shaped shrine? Is it an object of worship in itself? Is it in fact complete? Or was it left unfinished? Where were they planning to move it? Etc. Astonishingly, including the myth, there are more than 40 hypotheses about the origin of Ishino Houden.
According to “Harima no Kuni Fudoki”, the first document on Ishino Houden, it was established in the era of Shotoku Taishi by Mononobe no Moriya. However, that hypothesis contradicts other indications of the time it was made, and its true origin is still unknown.
Though each person feels power from slightly different spots, it’s generally agreed that the back side of Ishino Houden, left side of where there is a triangular protrusion, is that spot that is closest to the holy relic and therefore emits the most power. The way one feels this power is also different from each person. Some feels as if “electric shock is going through”, and others feel like their bodies are “getting warm from touching the stone”. We recommend you to touch it yourself and feel its power.
When you look at the surface of the rock carefully, there are several parts that are red. It is said to be caused by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. On 1579, during the siege of Miki Castle by Hashiba Hideyoshi (later Toyotomi Hideyoshi), the priest at the time refused Hideyoshi’s request to use Oushiko Shrine as his army’s camp. This angered Hideyoshi, and the shrine was burnt down. The fire from this attack, it is believed, burnt the rock and turned it red.
Moreover, Toyotomi Hideyoshi stole the bell of Oushiko Shrine this time and brought it back to Gifu prefecture, which was his base at the time. This bell still exists in Anraku Temple in Gifu prefecture.
Research using today’s machine is conducted on the Ishino Houden and its many mysteries. With a collaboration from Open Research Center, Research Institute of History Otemae University, 3 dimensional measurement using laser was conducted, and detailed study of the rock’s shape, including that of bedrock around it, was made.
This research produced many detailed data regarding the rock’s volume, its production process and its degree of degradation. However, none of the research has solved the “mystery of Ishino Houden” clearly yet.
Takasago prospered since the ancient time as a trading center.
Many tourists stopped here during their attendance procession to Edo or their pilgrimage to the Ise Shrine. Unlike the situation today with modern transport, the main travelling method then was “on foot”. How did this giant rock appear on people’s eyes at the end of their journey?
Even the famous Philipp Franz von Siebold (German doctor who stayed in Japan in the 19th century) visited Takasago on his way from Nagasaki to Edo, and left 3 detailed drawings of Ishino Houden.