The father of Japanese aircraft and "Hiko-jinja Shrine"

It may not be known that April 29, Showa no Hi (Showa Day), is a day deeply associated with airplanes.

When it comes to airplanes, the "Wright Brothers" of the United States are mentioned as the inventors.

It is known for successfully testing the world's first manned powered airplane on December 17, 1903.

Actually, did you know that some Japanese people discovered the principles of airplanes earlier than that?

He is Chuhachi Ninomiya, an aircraft researcher from Yawatahama, Ehime Prefecture.

Chuhachi successfully tested a model propeller airplane on April 29, 1891.

It was 12 years before the Wright brothers' first flight.

He was inspired by a crow that glides without moving its wings.

In addition, in 1893, he will aim to develop a large "Tamamushi-type aircraft" for manned flight.

However, as soon as it was completed with the development of the engine part, he was dispatched due to the Sino-Japanese War and the operation was suspended.

An application for a practical military "Tamamushi-style aircraft" on the battlefield was rejected for reasons such as during the war.

After the war, he worked for a pharmaceutical company and established his own pharmaceutical company.

However, when it was almost completed, news of the completion of the airplane by the Wright brothers jumped in.

Chuhachi abandoned the development of the plane for fear it would appear to be an imitation of the Wright brothers.


However, with the spread of airplanes in the world, Chuhachi came to be involved in airplanes from a different angle.

There were many airplane accidents at that time.

Chuhachi founded the Hiko-jinja Shrine in his residence in Yawata in 1915 to console the souls of the victims of airplane accidents.

He also prayed for aviation safety and the development of aviation business, and this is said to be the origin of the current flying shrine.

In his later years, Chuhachi himself worked as a Shinto priest of Hiko-jinja Shrine and served to pray for flight safety.

It is said that Chuhachi chosen Yawata as the site for the development of the airplane because its name is similar to his hometown, Yawatahama.


The current main building, worship hall and museum were rebuilt in 1989, 100 years after the discovery of the flight principle.

The nose section of the Zero fighter, which was pulled up at Kishiwada fishing port in Osaka, is also exhibited.

Aviation safety charms and Ema (votive tablets) with a motif of airplanes are also given and accepted by mail.

The enshrined deity, Nigihayahi no Mikoto, is a god said to fly in the sky on Amenoiwafune (rocky ship).

Now that we can no longer easily go on domestic and international trips, I can only hope that the day will come when I can fly again.

Hiko-jinja Shrine
44 Yawata Doi, Yawata-city, Kyoto
5 minutes walk from Keihan Iwashimizu Hachimangu Station

*A state of emergency to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus has been issued throughout Kyoto Prefecture from Sunday, April 25, 2021 to Tuesday, May 11.

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