10 Cool and Unique Shrines in Japan

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Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture, and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education in Japan and got her Master’s degree in March 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.

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Japan is a beautiful country where tradition and modernity are combined, and Shinto shrines are one of the symbols of this combination. While some shrines have been austere and historically significant since ancient times, many others are innovative and uniquely designed, providing tourists with interesting and memorable encounters. Why not visit these shrines, where history and modern art coexist, and experience the mystical charm of Japan? This article will introduce you to 10 cool and unique shrines in Japan.

1. Kawaguchi Asama Shrine (Yamanashi)

Kawaguchi Asada Shrine, located in Yamanashi, was constructed to appease the great eruption of Mt. Fuji in 864. Dedicated to the deity of Mt. Fuji, the shrine features an impressive 18-meter-high grand torii gate along its main approach. Within the shrine grounds are seven cedars over 1,200 years old, two of which are popularly known as the “Cedars of Marriage”. A sacred place that welcomes visitors, history and nature are in harmony.

Official Website: Kawaguchi Asama Shrine (Only in Japanese) 

2. Motonosumi Shrine (Yamaguchi)

Motonosumi Shrine in Yamaguchi was built in 1955 by a local man who was guided by a revelation from a white fox that suddenly appeared to him. The shrine offers a wide range of blessings to those who pray here, including prosperous business, a great catch of fish, safety at sea, a good marriage, the birth of a child, good luck and good fortune, traffic safety, and academic achievement. The 123 torii gates, dedicated over a period of 10 years since 1987, are beautifully lined up for more than 100 meters, attracting attention both in Japan and abroad for their powerful spectacle.

Information website: Motonosumi Shrine

3. Futami Okitama Shrine (Ise)

Futami Okitama Shrine, a place where love and mystery dance in the air. Sacred powers of match-making, marital bliss, and traffic safety reside here in Ise, Mie Prefecture, symbolized by the couple rocks. The pair of rocks extending before the shrine are revered as the sacred stones “Okitama Shinseki (輿玉神石)” and the torii to the Great Sun God. These two rocks, one large and one small, are beautifully harmonized. This place captivates those seeking marital bliss and a harmonious marriage. The magnificent sunrise on the summer solstice and the enchanting moonrise on the winter solstice cast their blessings between the two rocks. Futami Okitama Shrine is a dazzling, romantic place where love and prayer meet.

Official Website: Futami Okitama Shrine (Only in Japanese) 

Alpsdake, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

4. Sakurai Futamigaura (Fukuoka)

Sakurai Futamigaura, located in Fukuoka, is home to Sakurai Shrine, a sacred site cherished by locals. Set against the stunning backdrop of the setting sun, the shrine has long been a beloved landmark in the area. Beyond the grand white torii gate, two huge rocks called the “husband and wife rocks” are nestled together in a scene that is said to bring good luck for marriages and marital bliss. In the evening, the scene of the couple rocks sitting close together against the sunset is absolutely photogenic. The mystical energy you feel here will stay with you for a long time.

Official Website: Sakurai Shrine (Only in Japanese) 

そらみみ (Soramimi), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

5. Takaya Shrine (Kagawa)

Takaya Shrine in Kagawa Prefecture rises to the top of Mount Inazumi, 404 meters above sea level. This shrine is known as the “torii in the sky” because of its elevation, and its presence is very special. The view from the top is breathtaking, offering a panoramic view of the beautiful Seto Inland Sea and the sprawling city of Kannonji. The sacred atmosphere felt at Takaya Shrine, standing close to the heavens, and the natural beauty below will bring great excitement to visitors.

Dokudami, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

6. Amano Iwato Shrine (Miyazaki)

Amano Iwato Shrine, located in Miyazaki Prefecture, is a shrine that reveres Ama-no-Iwato, where Amaterasu, the god of Japan, went into hiding and whose sacred presence can be felt here. This shrine is surrounded by a quiet, deep forest, which exudes a mysterious atmosphere and fills this place with a sacred energy. The shrine grounds are dominated by the sacred “ogatama tree” and ancient ginkgo trees, both of which are known as power spots. Amano Iwato Shrine is a place where nature and the sacred are in perfect harmony, and a sense of calm, healing, and inspiration pervades all who visit!

Official Website: Amano Iwato Shrine (Only in Japanese) 

Big Ben in Japan, CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED, via Flickr

7. Izumo Taisha (Shimane)

Izumo Taisha, a sacred shrine in Shimane, is renowned as the god of marriage and symbolizes Izumo, often referred to as “the land of the Gods” in Japanese mythology. The deity of this shrine is “Okuninushi”, revered as the great god who truly shaped the nation of Japan. The solemn atmosphere of Izumo Taisha brings mystical impressions to visitors. One of the most notable features of the shrine is the shimenawa (large straw rope) proudly displayed in front of the Kaguraden (Hall of Shinto music and dance). It is approximately 13 meters long and weighs 5.2 tons, making it one of the largest shimenawa in Japan. The overwhelming size of the rope leaves the viewer in awe. The moment one enters the precincts of Izumo-taisha Shrine, a breath of myth and majesty fills the air and captivates the hearts of all who visit.

Official Website: Izumo Taisha (Only in Japanese) 

redlegsfan21 from Vandalia, OH, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

8. Oarai Isosaki Shrine (Ibaraki)

Oarai lsosaki Shrine, located in Ibaraki Prefecture, enshrines the deity who protects the safety of families and the sea, and has a seemingly solemn atmosphere. The torii gate, which appears to float on the surface of the sea, is particularly magical, and many tourists visit the shrine year after year to enjoy this scenery. One cannot help but admire the beauty of the large torii gate, which stands unaffected by wind and rain, along with the waves that line it.

Official Website: Oarai Isosaki Shrine (Only in Japanese) 

9. Udo Shrine (Miyazaki)

Udo Shrine, located in Miyazaki Prefecture, is affectionately called “Udo-san” by the locals, and is a very special shrine. Located at the tip of Cape Udozaki, which juts out into the Pacific Ocean, the shrine’s main hall, painted in brightly colored vermilion, stands in a cave deep within the cape. Enshrined here are the gods of marriage, conjugal harmony, safe childbirth, fishing, and navigation, and a sincere visit will bring rich blessings. Udo Shrine is a place where mystical atmosphere and beautiful nature resonate, bringing deep emotion and peaceful healing to visitors.

Official Website: Uno Shrine (Only in Japanese) 

AHLN, CC BY 2.0 DEED, via Flickr

10. Kumano Nachi Taisha (Wakayama)

Kumano Nachi-taisha Shrine, located in Wakayama Prefecture, boasts a prestigious presence as the head shrine of some 4,000 Kumano shrines throughout Japan. Nachi Falls, located in front of Kumano Nachi Taisha, is a spectacular waterfall with a drop of 133 meters and a depth of 10 meters. The name of this waterfall is mentioned in the Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters), and it has built a reputation as a sacred waterfall. Surrounded by fresh green forests and sacred air, why not visit Kumano Nachi-taisha Shrine and purify your body and soul in front of the majestic waterfall? An inspiring experience awaits you there, where the serene atmosphere of the shrine mingles with the great power of nature.

Official Website: Kumano Nachi Taisha (Only in Japanese) 

Tetsuhiro Terada, CC BY 2.0 DEED, via Flickr

We have introduced 10 cool and unique shrines in this article, did any of them resonate with you? Each of Japan’s shrines holds a different charm, offering a blend of history, culture, and beautiful nature. On your upcoming trip, experience the mysterious world of Japan. As you pass through the gates of the shrine and are surrounded by its sacred atmosphere, you will gain an experience that will enrich your mind and soul.

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