It is said that in the 4th century, at Okinoshima, which is located 60km off the coast of Kyūshū, and in the key point between Japan and the continent, ritual ceremonies were held to pray for a safe navigation and successful trade. In this time ritual ceremonies were held outside and in the 7th century a similar ceremonies were began to be held at Mitake-san, where Mitake shrine is now, and in Tashima on mainland, where the Munakata Taisha Hetsugū is now.
In the Kojiki, composed in the early 8th century, and the Nihon-Shoki it is documented that the Munakata clan is worshipping the three Munakata goddesses in 3 shrines, Hetsugū, Nakatsugū and Okitsugū. By the 16th century a shrine was built at the foot of the mountain which would be the Nakatsugū and Mitake shrine became the rear shrine of Nakatsugū.
The remains of an ancient ceremonial place where ritual ceremonies took place between the 7th century and the 9th century, similar to what was found at Okinoshima, have been found near Mitake shrine.
Learn more about the Nakatsugū.
The enshrined dieties of the Mitake shrine is Amaterasu-ōmikami and Tagitsuhime-no-kami-no-aratama.
Amaterasu-ōmikami is seen as the goddess of the sun and well known as the enshrined diety of Ise Grand shrine. She is the ruler of the heavens, and also said to be the Imperial ancestor.
Amaterasu was born when Izanagi-no-mikoto returned from Yomi, the land of the dead, when he washed out his left eye. She was born along with Tsukuyomi-no-mikoto and Susanō-no-mikoto, and these three gods are called "Mihashira-no-uzu-no-miko" together. Izanagi-no-mikoto told Amaterasu-ōmikami to be the ruler of the sun and the heavens, and Susanō-no-mikoto to be the ruler of the seas, but Susanō-no-mikoto, wanting to go to Ne where his mother is, he refused. This upset Izanagi-no-mikoto and he ordered Susanō-no-mikoto to leave Heaven. Before Susanō-no-mikoto left heaven, he visited his sister Amaterasu-ōmikami for the last time to say goodbye, but Amaterasu-ōmikami was suspicious he came back to attack. Susanō-no-mikoto proposed a pledge to prove his sincerity.
In this pledge, when Amaterasu-ōmikami chewed Susanō-no-mikoto's sword and breathes out, the three Munakata goddesses, consisting of the three sisters Tagorihime-no-kami, Tagitsuhime-no-kami and Ichikishimahime-no-kami, gave birth from her breath. Amaterasu-ōmikami gave the three goddesses an oracle and under this oracle the three goddesses descended to earth. Each of the goddesses were enshrined in the island of Okinoshima, the island of Ōshima and mainland Kyūshū and where they were enshrined became Munakata Taisha.
Divine spirits have two characters, one is a "Nigitama", the gentle and kind personality, and the other is a "Aratama", the violent and furious personality. In most shrines both characters are enshrined together but sometimes one character is enshrined alone. In Mitake shrine the Aratama of Tagitsuhime-no-kami, one of three Munakata goddesses, is enshrined.
The three Munakata goddesses were worshipped to provide protection for a Safe navigation. Also, since the three Munakata goddesses descended under the oracle to protect the Imperial family, the three goddesses are believed to bring national prosperity.
As the god of the sun, Amaterasu-ōmikami has been worshipped to bring good harvest. Also Amaterasu-ōmikami is worshipped as the supreme deity of Shinto, she is said to bring all kinds of good luck.