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 princes and paupers alike throughout the history of Japan. Of those shines, Kumano Hayatama Taisha is a bit smaller shrine compared to the other two shrines, but it still has its many charms.

Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine

Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine is in Shingu City, which is located on the tip of the Kii peninsula. It is three hours from both Nagoya and Osaka by limited express. 

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”.

Kumano Hayatama Shrine
Nagi (Asian bayberry) tree. It is more than 1,000 years old and considered a sacred tree
Yatagarasu Shrine: Yatagarasu guided Emperor Jinmu through Nara from Kumano

Once you enter the shrine grounds, you will see the honden. The honden enshrines twelve gods including its principal gods, Kumano Hayatama no Okami and Kumano Fusumu no Okami. These two gods are also recognized as the Buddhist deities Yakushi Nyorai and Senju Kannon and the Shinto gods, Izanagi and Izanami.

All the other shrines in the Kumano Sanzan only have one principal god and no one knows why only this shrine has two.

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

Kumano Hayatama Shrine was far…
Kumano Hayatama Shrine

Points of Interest

Kamikura Shrine 

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 way 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. 

You will see this board before long
entrance of kamikura shrine
Almost there!

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

Behind the mountain is a huge rock called gotobiki iwa. 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.

Kamikura Shrine and Gotobiki Iwa (on right)
You can see the great view of Kumano Sea

Information: Kumano Hayatama Taisha


Shingu 1, Shingu City, Wakayama Prefecture





Getting To

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.


8AM – 5PM


Price Range






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