Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Sacred Gotobiki Iwa - Kansai Odyssey
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  • Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Sacred Gotobiki Iwa

    The most sacred pilgrimage in West Japan is the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage, but  even more popular is the Kumano Sanzan.  Composed of three shrines along the Kii Peninsula, the Kamano Sanzan once attracted prince and pauper alike throughout the history of Japan. Of those shines, Kumano Hayatama Taisha [熊野速玉大社], is a bit smaller shrine compared the other two shrines, but it it still has its many charms.

    Shrine Grounds

    Most people take one of the limited express trains to Shingu, but we took the local lines the entire way because our 18 kippu was still valid. I can’t say if I really recommend just taking the local lines however, as it took a total of 7 hours and the trains were old and a bit uncomfortable to sit for such a long time… the ocean was pretty though.

    This city got its name “Shingu” because of Kumano Hayatama Taisha. The gods of Kumano Hayatama Taisha were originally enshrined in nearby Kamikura Shrine, but during the reign of  Emperor Keiko, he relocated the shrine to its current location and renamed it “Shingu”.

    gate

    Upon entering, there is a rather short path to honden.

    Nagi (Asian bayberry) tree. It is more than 1,000 years old and considered sacred tree. It is one of the biggest nagi tree in Japan!
    Yatagarasu Shrine: Shrine to Yatagarasu, the three-legged raven that guided Emperor Jinmu through Nara.
    Benkei: Musashibo Benkei is allegedly from Southern Wakayama.

    Once you enter the shrine grounds, you will see the honden. The honden enshrines twelve gods including its principle gods, Kumano Hayatama no Okami and Kumano Fusumu no Okami. These two gods are also recognized as the Buddhist deitiesYakushi Nyorai and Senju Kannon and the Shinto gods, Izanagi and Izanami. All the other shrines in the Kumano Sanzan only have one principle god and no one knows why just this shrine has two.

    Current Shrine building built in 1967. The former shrine building burned down during the annual fire festival…

    Points of Interest

    Kamikura Shrine [神倉神社]

    After you visit Kumano Hayatama Taisha, don’t forget to visit Kamikura Shrine too! The shrine is quite important as Kumano Hayatama Taisha originated there. Kamikura Shrine is located a little ways down the road from Kumano Hayatama Taisha. Unfortunately there is no map to show you the way to Kamikura Shrine from Hayatama Taisha, so try not to get lost! Still, it’s rather simple to get there; just walk straight along the road in front of the museum. 

    go this way!
    You will see this board before long
    entrance of kamikura shrine

    Kamikura Shrine is located on the top of the mountain. You have to clime up 538 stairs to the top, but it takes only 15 minutes or so.

    Gotobiki Iwa

    Behind the mountain is huge rock called gotobiki iwa [ごとびき岩]. It looks as if it is about to fall, but it has stayed like this for thousands of years.  Ancient Japanese people felt something mysterious or even divine about this rock, and they started to worship this rock as a god. This is a great example of how Japanese Shintoism started.

    gotobikiiwa

    Information: Kumano Hayatama Taisha

    Address

    Shingu 1, Shingu City, Wakayama Prefecture

    Access

    The closets station to Kumano Hayatama Taisha is the JR Shingu Station via the JR Kisei (Kinokuni) Line. It takes roughly 3 hours from Osaka by Limited Express Kuroshio or 3 hours from Nagoya on the Limited Express Nanki. Since the local line doesn’t have that many stops after Kii Natanabe Station, you probably should just take a limited express.

    Open Hours

    8AM – 5PM

    Entrance Fee

    Free

    Notes

     

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