A 2000-year-old shrine built at the foot of a sacred mountain, Mt. Togakushi
Oku-sha, Kuzuryu-sha, Chu-sha, Hinomiko-sha and Hoko-sha make up Togakushi Shrine which is very famous as the holy site for enshrining the gods behind The Opening of the Cave of Heaven which returned the light to the world. Mt. Togakushi happens to be the site where the rock door to the Cave of Heaven was flung after the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, had hidden there. During the age when Shinto and Buddhism were taught together, it is said that the mountain was a sacred place of religious practice alongside Mt. Koya and Mt. Hiei. The 5 shrines of Togakushi are located in separate places so that if time is short, you will want to visit Oku-sha, Chu-sha and Kuzuryu-sha, which is where the local folk deities of the mountain reside, as the famed power spots.
Japan’s premier power spots of Oku-sha and Kuzuryu-sha
It’s recommended to first visit Oku-sha and Kuzuryu-sha when arriving at Togakushi. From the entrance, it’s a 2km hike to the two shrines. The path which is deep in the mountain can only be traversed on foot. Going beyond the path lined with giant cedar trees that are over 400 years old, you will catch sight of the torii gate for Oku-sha at the bottom of the mountain, as well as the shaden main building of the shrine. When the Sun Goddess was hiding in the Cave of Heaven, it was the God of Strength, Amenotajikarao-no-mikoto, who wrested the door open, and it is dedication to him that was the origin of the Oku-sha. From this, it is said that this shrine has become a power spot to grant the life-changing of power of action and actualization. Near Oku-sha is Kuzuryu-sha which is the oldest of the 5 shrines that enshrined the local folk deities even before the establishment of Togakushi Shrine in 210 BC. A visit to Kuzuryu-sha is known as a spot to grant the power of Aratama which makes things come true.
Finishing your visit at Chu-sha at the center of Togakushi Shrine
Chu-sha, which was established as a counterpart to Oku-sha, currently is the center for the five shrines, as it houses the administrative office for Togakushi Shrine. It also enshrines the deity Amenoyagokoroomoikane-no-mikoto who suggested the idea of opening up the Cave of Heaven, and grants wishes on things such as academic success. On the shrine grounds, there is a sacred tree of over 700 years of age and three cedar trees which are over 800 years old which are also known to be power spots. In addition, it is said that the waterfall just behind and to the right of the main building provides strong purification. Also nearby, there is a restaurant which serves the local dish of Togakushi soba. The Togakushi area is famous within Nagano Prefecture for having the tastiest soba. You will want to try some when you visit Togakushi Shrine.