The Former Site of Kumano Hongu Grand Shrine at Ōyunohara

The “torii” gate of overwhelming size is also famous as a spiritual power spot

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Until its partial destruction in 1889 from floods, Kumano Hongu Grand Shrine was located in Ōyunohara. The area has retained its mysterious atmosphere and is also a popular tourist spot for seeing cherry blossoms.
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The 34-meter-high giant torii is a must-see

Kumano Hongu Grand Shrine was once situated on the sandbank of Ōyunohara at the junction of the Kumano, Otonashi and Iwata Rivers. Ōyunohara is located 500m away from the current location of the shrine. The original shrine was said to have been much larger than its current incarnation, but much of it was washed away due to floods in 1889 which led to the creation of its current form that has been admired by many people. Ōyunohara, which is said to be the place where the gods landed, is popular as a power spot. In particular, the 34-meter-high giant torii is overwhelming. The area is also known as a famous spot for cherry blossoms in the spring, and when they are in full bloom, the giant torii and the forests of Ōyunohara take on a faintly pink color whose appearance is incredibly lovely.

Festivals and events at the shrine

The lushly green Ōyunohara has a refreshing atmosphere from which you can reach Kumano Hongu Grand Shrine within 10 minutes on foot. At the shrine, there are various festivals and events held there throughout the year. On New Year’s Day, there is a special festival which features the highlight of the torii being illuminated. In April, the biggest festival at the shrine is held in which up to 50 men purify themselves at Yunomine Onsen while singing hymns; the event has been prefecturally designated as an Intangible Folk Culture Property. These events are recommended to experience the culture of an area that has been preserved all these centuries.

Tourist spots of note in the surrounding area

There are plenty of onsen to take advantage of such as the Kawayu Onsen which has the gigantic open-air bath Sennin-buro open only in winter, the Watase Onsen where you can enjoy the outdoors, and the famous World Heritage site of Tsuboyu whose waters change color 7 times at Yunomine Onsen which has Japan’s oldest waters. As well, the Kumano Kodo is another World Heritage site which has attracted many pilgrims past and present as sacred ground and is a tourist spot well worth a visit.

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