Kumano Hayatama Taisha

Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kamikura Jinja are residences of the gods of Kumano

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Kumano Hayatama Taisha is one of the Kumano Sanzan shrines, and the head shrine of the many thousands of Kumano shrines throughout the country. The highlights include the massive evergreen trees and the sacred National Treasures. We also recommend visiting Kamikura Jinja, a detached precinct of the main temple, located on a steep cliff.
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An inner-city sacred shrine that is covered in greenery

Kumano Hayatama Taisha is one of the three Kumano Sanzan shrines. Only 15 minutes walk from Shingu Station, it is the most easily-accessible of the Kumano Sanzan shrines. The air is noticeably holy in this beautiful red-lacquered shrine, which is covered in greenery despite being an inner-city shrine. One of the largest trees in Japan, the sacred nagi tree, is located on the temple grounds, and is more than 1000 years old. It is a designated National Natural Moment. Since ancient times, Kumano pilgrims have prayed for a safe journey by wearing nagi leaves on their sleeves and hats as talismans and amulets, as they believe that the Kumano gods reside within the leaves. It is also a symbol of matrimony, as the veins of the leaf only run vertically, and it is difficult to tear the leaf horizontally. In the past, people used to put nagi leaves under their mirrors so that the link with their marriage partner would not come to an end. The marriage charms made from the seeds of the nagi trees at Hayatama Taisha are popular. At the sacred treasure house on the temple grounds, you can see the Koshinhorui, which is a National Treasure. Also on display are saiehiougi, which are fans sprinkled with gold and silver leaf and treated with the naturally beautiful skin of Japanese cypress that were used in the imperial court, and kirikarakusa makie-tebako, containers for cosmetic implements.

Kamikura Jinja is at the top of 538 steep stone steps

15 minutes walk from here is Kamikura Jinja, which you will want to visit at the same time. Located on a steep cliff on Mount Kamikura (a sacred place where the Kumano Sansho Gods first descended), Kamikura Jinja is a detached precinct of Hayatama Taisha. Pass through the red lacquered archways on the left of Sarutahiko Jinja and Kamikura Sambokojin Jinja and climb the 538 steep stone steps to reach Gotobiki-ishi (which means “toad” in the Kumano dialect), a rock where the gods of Kamikura Jinja are said to reside, across from which there is the main shrine. From Kamikura Jinja, you can see Shingu City and the Kumano Sea.

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