Shrines are at the heart of the local community
Soma Myokenmiya Shohatsu Shrine was built in 1791 by the Soma clan who were devotees of Myoken, a Buddhist deity. Though built in 1791, its origins can be traced back to 1321 when Soma Magogoro Hirashige, a Soma clan ancestor, enshrined Myokenmiya as the guardian of the land.
This historic shrine has been protected by the local people for generations. Since ancient times, people gathered where shrines were built and created a lively atmosphere. This shrine is also one of them and has existed at the core of the local community.
In the wake of the 2011 disaster, the location of the shrine came under evacuation zone which forced the shrine’s God (Goshintai) and the priest to evacuate for about 10 years. It left the shrine without a God.
The stone pagoda fell down and the structure itself was leaning due to the earthquake however, the children of the shrine (known as Ujikko) were determined to rebuild the shrine.
Right after the nuclear disaster, the radiation levels in the area were high which made it impossible to enter the shrine without a permit. Though it was difficult to rebuild the shrine right after the disaster, we decided to start with what we could do and in December 2015 we resumed the hanging of Shimenawa (sacred rope). This was one activity we did every year before the earthquake.
(‘From what we can do’ – Record of the restoration of the Shohatsu Shrine’s Shimenawa : https://youtu.be/VnYu_Uqj5-4(from Futaba Town's official YouTube channel))
With the resumption of this activity, the restoration of the shrine building itself was completed on November 30, 2019. With entry restrictions relaxed on March 04, 2020, a ceremony to return the God to the shrine was held on November 28, 2020.
At night, the lights of the shrine illuminate the darkness. It is a view that makes us feel that this is the true light of reconstruction for our town and its people.