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The Hie (Hiyoshi) shrine rose to national importance in the 7th century when Emperor Tenji 天智 moved the capital to Outsu and invited the kami (Oumononushi no kami 大物主神) to act as the guardian deity of the new imperial residence. These three Kami are Omiya (大宮), Ninomiya (二宮), and Shōshinshi (聖真子). Tientai (天台山, literally “heavenly terraced mountain”). This name, moreover, is attributed to the mountain’s location below a three-star constellation north of the Big Dipper in Ursa Major.

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The term “Masura” is often translated as “excel,” reflecting the belief that this sacred monkey can overcome all obstacles and prevail against all evil.

Masaru is thus considered a demon queller par excellence (魔が去る・何よりも勝る).

One can still find centuries-old stone statues with monkey motifs in many Japanese localities -- statues weathering away, unprotected from the elements, more than 300 years in age.

Photos of these statues are presented below, and links to outside sites featuring many more images are listed on Page Four.

The northeast was thus the direction from which malevolent supernatural influences might particularly be expected.

The situation of the old Japanese capital city of Kyoto is particularly fortunate.

Hiei multiplex and the sacred monkey of the Hie Shrine (Hie Jinja 日吉神社; also called Hiyoshi Taisha 日吉大社). These three Kami are Omiya (大宮), Ninomiya (二宮), and Shōshinshi (聖真子).

All six are considered to be manifestations of the Sannō deity. Hiei, each associated with a specific Buddhist counterpart.

In Chinese thought, the northeast quarter is considered to be particularly inauspicious.

The northeast direction is known as the “demon gate,” which can be loosely translated as the place where “demons gather and enter.” This belief was imported by the Japanese and is referred to as In Japan, the monkey’s role in guarding against demons originates from the Japanese word for monkey (猿, pronounced saru), which is a homonym for the Japanese word “expel” (去る, also pronounced saru).

The manifestations of the Sannō deity are called “Hie Sannō Gongen” (日吉山王権現 Mountain King Avatars of Hie Shrine) -- gongen means “avatar,” and the most common form of this avatar is the monkey.