Cult of wolves and "Gokenzoku-haishaku"
When Yamato Takeru was sent to conquer the eastern land, he got lost at Karisaka pass. Then wolves appeared to guide him and he came to the area which will be called Mitsumine. When Yamato Takeru founded the shrine, for the wolves's faithfulness and bravery, he decided wolves should be a "Kenzoku", divine messenger. This is why statues of wolves are seen in various places in Mitsumine shrine, where in other shrine there are "Komainu"s are placed.
An ordinary "Kenzoku" is a divine messenger and not a deity itself, but at Mitsumine shrine, the wolves are worshipped as a "Yama-no-kami", a deity in the mountains, and called "Ōkuchi-no-makami (大口真神)", "Go-kenzoku-sama" or "O-inu-sama".
This unique cult of wolves became popular in the Edo period. In 1720, when a Shugendō practitioner Nikkō Hōin was in his hermitage and suddenly wolves gathered in the shrine. He thought this was a divine message, and lent talismans of wolves and it brought miraculous efficacies. In the mountain area, wolves were believed to provide protection from wild animals such as hog or dears which damaged crops, but when this cult spreaded to the city area in Edo it became to be believed to provide protection from theft or disastors. Eventually this cult spreaded all around the country and it became popular to receive a talisman of wolves.
Gokenzoku-sama is believed to be hiding deep in the mountains, so a temporary shrine called "Okariya" is built at the far end of the shrine to worship it.
Receiving a talisman of wolves is called "Gokenzoku-haishaku". "Haishaku" means borrowing, and by "borrowing" the "Gokenzoku" and worshipping in one's home or in a community would bring protection. To "Gokenzoku-haishaku"
, you must make application at the reception and participate in formal worshipping in the haiden. Ceremony fee is ￥3000 and if its the first time another ￥2000 for the box to place the talisman in. You must return the talisman within one year from receiving it.
The white "Ki" charm
Mitsumine shrine, known to be a "Power-spot", places with spiritual energy, with the strongest power in the Kanto area, it is also known for the white "Ki" charm distributed only on the first day of the month. "Ki (氣, sacred powers)" charms in other colors such as red, blue and green are distributed everyday but the white one is only distributed on the 1st. White is said to be the color of sunlight or to be a color of sanctity and purity. White is also a color of regeneration and also means a new start so the white "Ki" charms are only distributed on the "Tsuitachi", the start of a new month.
The distribution of the "Ki" charm started in 2013, and it became a hot topic that a famous figure skater received good luck keeping it. Every month many people visit Mitsumine shrine to get this special charm. To receive the white "Ki" charm, the claim ticket issued near the Mitsu-Torī, at the entrance of the shrine is required. After having issued the claim ticket, you can receive the charm whenever you want until 5pm.
One person can receive only one charm. ￥2000 required.