Dec 28, 2011

Shrine of the Floating Log and the Derivation of its Name

Have you visited the golden statue of Tatsuko? The statue has now become internationally known for its appearance in Korean drama IRIS. The statue is standing next to a shrine called Ukiki Shrine (浮木神社), also known as Kansagu(漢槎宮).

Lake Tazawa is known for a number of intricate legends. The name of this small shrine also derives from a local legend about a floating log. It is said that one side of the log was showing above the water about 2-meters long but the other side was heavily sinking in the water. According to a book, Furusato Hakubutsushi by Jihei Chiba, the floating upside-down log with its branches sinking deeply was said to have resembled a dragon, which plays an important role in the legend of Tatsuko. It is why the people believed built a shrine where the log has finally settled on the shore.

Derivation of the name.

The book also says that a floating log first appeared in a book around 1770 written by Soshu Masuto, a scholar who visited Lake Tazawa and saw the floating log and unusually shaped clouds over Mt. Akita Komagatake. His associates alarmed that it was a sign of changing weather, so they quickly returned to the shore. The story was written in his book, Monsa Kikou, which introduced the lake that was formerly known as Tazawa-no-Kata and Tatsuko Kata, as a lake of floating log, “Ukiki-no-Mizuumi”.

Chiba, in his book published in 1998, also suggests that in the ancient time the people believed that a big tree carried a divine spirit so that the floating log was also seen as a divine object. Furthermore, another literature mentions that in the ancient time, the logs were transported from Tazawa Village on the other side of the lake to Kakunodate Town by running them on the lakewater. That is why the “floating log” was significant in the villager’s life and worshipped at nearby shrines.

Knowing the legends and these background stories would take you to an imaginary journey back in time. The scenery from this site, Katajiri (潟尻), is probably the most featured to represent Akita Prefecture!

A panel with a picture of Statue of Tatsuko and Lake Tazawa
 from a scene of IRIS welcome you at Akita Airport.

In the summer, you can feed fish (mostly Japanese dace) near the shrine. In winter, you can see the snow-covered Akita Komagatake Mountains mirrored on the lake water from here.

New Year is approaching! As we have mentioned, Goza no Ishi Shrine is a popular shrine for a new year’s visit, Hatsumode. Perhaps it’s a good idea to drive around and make another stop at this beautiful place!

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