Storyteller, Divine Spirit / “Norito” Shinto Ritual Prayer
Hideshi Sogabe (“Negi” Senior Priest of Ishizuchi Shrine)
Hideshi was born and brought up in a village formally known as Ishizuchi-mura (Komatsu-cho at present) in the heart of Sacred Mount Ishizuchi. After high school, he moved to Tokyo to study at the Department of Shinto Studies, Faculty of Letters at Kokugakuin University. After graduation, he happened to be called upon from Ishizuchi shrine located in Saijyo City, Ehime where he was born, although he had been supposed to work at a shrine in Kyoto. What a curious coincidence, Ishizuchi Shrine Jojusha located at the 7th station of Mount Ishizuchi had been burned down by fire and was just under reconstruction, thus he started working as a Shinto priest at the temporal prefab hut. Having moved from the Tokyo Megalopolis into the Great Nature where there was no water service at that time, his life changed drastically. Since then Hideshi was promoted to Shuten (i.e., trainee), to Gonnegi (i.e., chief), and to Negi (i.e., manager). In 2006, he established NPO Ishizuchi Mori-no-Gakko “School of the Woods”, where he works under the nick name of Richard, as a Director and Secretary General, and also as a mountain guide for visitors to Joju District, giving lectures on culture, tradition and nature of Mount Ishizuchi. In order to tell people how fascinating Mount Ishizuchi is, Hideshi runs around in the heart of this sacred mountain every day, just like he used to do when he was a boy. “It must’ve been fate!”, says Hideshi.