Togakushi district, about an hour’s drive from Nagano city, Nagano prefecture. A mountainous area that developed as a village of “shugendo” (Japanese mountain asceticism-shamanism incorporating Shinto and Buddhist concepts), centering on Togakushi mountain, which is said to have been flying from the Japanese myth “Ama no Iwato” (huge rock).
Togakushi has a long history and dates back to Japanese mythology. It is reported that the Japanese myth “Ama no Iwato” was thrown away and became a mountain called Togakushi. A shrine dedicated to the gods who were active in the legend of “Ama no Iwato” (described later) was built around Mt. Togakushi.
Later, it developed as a place of mountain worship and shugendo, and in the Kamakura period, together with Mount Hiei and Mount Koya, gathered so many ascetic Buddhist monks and participants called “Sanzenbou Sanzan” (3000 apprentices in three mountain) . The intense training of the test road eventually evolved into the Togakushi Ninja, and soba that was harvested even in a mountain village where rice could not be harvested became known as Togakushi Soba.
In Togakushi there is a shrine where the gods who were active in the “Ama no Iwato Legend” are enshrined. Among them, Okusha Shrine, Chusha Shrine, and Hokosha Shrine are called Togakushi Three Shrines. Some shrines have a history of over 2,000 years and are still the center of the Togakushi district.
“Okusha Shrine” is said to be founded in 210 BC. Amanotajikarao no mikoto (the god of strength), which has thrown Iwato (huge rock), one of the main characters of “Ama no Iwato Legend”, is enshrined.
As its name suggests, “Okusha Shrine” is located at the back of the mountain in the Togakushi district and is considered the most prestigious shrine among Togakushi shrines.
The approach from Okusha Shrine’s parking lot to the main shrine is about 2 kilometers long (about 1 hour round trip). A red-painted mountain gate appears at a halfway point along the approach road, and there is a majestic cedar tree that is over 400 years old and is designated as a natural monument. This approach has been selected as one of the “10 Best Sound Scenes in Japan”.
Chusha Shrine is enshrined with Amenoyagokoro Omoikane no Mikoto, which is said to have given wisdom to open Ama no Iwato, and is known as “God of Wisdom” and “God of Academic and Examination”. There are sacred trees that are said to be over 700 years old and three cedars that are said to be over 800 years old.
Hokosha Shrine is one of the three Togakushi shrines and is a shrine at the entrance of the Togakushi district. Here, Amenouwaharu no Mikoto, a child of Chusha Shrine’s enshrined deity, who is a guardian deity for women and children, such as “safe delivery”, “technical sewing” and “household safety” is enshrined.
To the main shrine, we will go up the steep stone steps of 270 steps in the dense cedar stand called Otokozaka. There are fewer visitors than other shrines, avoiding steep stone steps, but together with the surrounding large trees, this shrine has a profound and serious atmosphere.
Ninjutsu and shugendo are said to have a deep relationship, and Togakushi, which has flourished as a shugendo sacred place, is also known as a ninja village. Along with the Iga and Koga styles, one of the representatives of the Ninjutsu school is the Togakure style, and Togakushi has facilities related to ninja.
In Nagano Prefecture, the Hokuriku Shinkansen is open and can be reached in about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Tokyo. Togakushi district is about an hour by car from Nagano Station. Wash your heart at the shrine, move your body at the ninja residence, and fill your stomach with Togakushi soba. Why do not you spend such a holiday?
Shugendo has been held since the Heian period
Japanese old myths have “Ama no iwato” (Cave of heaven) myth. Amaterasu (the God of the sun) of Ise Jingu Shrine got ridiculously furious at his brother Susanoo and has shut herself in “Ama no iwato”. The troubled “Yao yorozu no kami” (eight million gods) opened a strategy meeting to gather at “Omoikane” who is the god of wisdom and bring Amaterasu out. Amaterasu who became anxious opened a little Iwato (rock gate) because “Uzume”, the god of entertainment danced and everyone made a fuss. At that moment, Tajikarao, a mighty god, tossed rocks, pulled Amaterasu out, and it is said that the light returned to the world. Mt. Togakushi is said that rocks thrown off at that time are the ones that became mountains.
In Mt. Togakushi, which is regarded as sacred mountain, Shugendo has been held since the Heian period, and it has been known as one of Japan’s leading spiritual places. Between the cedar trees that are over 400 years old and over 800 years old, you can see the masonry of the large auditorium and temples that existed until the Edo period. You can also see the remnant that Shugendo was prosperous from those sites. The tutelary deity, “Kuzuryu” (nine-head dragon) which gathers faith as a god of water, agriculture and commerce is dotted in various places in Japan, but this Togakushi Jinja Shrine’s Kuzuryu is the head family.
Togakushi five shrines, which marks more than 2,000 years of history, is set around the roughy faces mountain. For them, God who was active in “Ama no iwato” myth is enshrined. Why don’t you visit Togakushi Jinja Shrine that is full of mysteries from ancient times.
The time of the Japanese mythology
Togakushi Jinja Shrine is in the northwestern part of Nagano-shi, Nagano, and it is consisting of five shinto shrines around Mount Togakushi. The beginning of it dates back until the time of the Japanese mythology. It is said that Mount Togakushi made by “Ama no Iwato” which has been blown away, and it is “Togakushi Jinja Shrine” that is in Mount Togakushi.
The tour the five shrines
In Mount Togakushi about 1,200m above sea level, the accommodations such as an inn and a pension, a mountain hut, the guest house are substantial, too. A lot of tourists visit here, and tour the five shrines is particularly popular. If you visit all of them, luck has turned in your favor in a well-balanced state.
The huge avenue of cryptomerias more than 300 years old
When you pass through the Zuishin-mon gate of the Okusha shrine approach to a shrine, the huge avenue of cryptomerias more than 300 years old appears in front. The big cedar tree of around 30m in height is the best part. It is a mysterious place where you can feel that your body recovers when you walk.
The steep stairs
Hokosha shrine with the long stairs of 274 steps. Because it is mossed and its angle is rapid, so you need to go up with a tight gut.
The Okusha shrine is shut when snow is deep
Togakushi that is buried among snow when it is winter. The Okusha shrine is shut every year in the season when snow is deep. You cannot enter there during the closed period.
|Name:||Togakushi Jinja Shrine|
|Adresse:||Togakushi 3506 Nagano, Nagano 381-4101 Japan|
|Access:||JR Hokuriku Shinkansen Line “Nagano-eki Station” (45 minutes by car)|