Kirishima Jingu Shrine

Kirishima Jingu Shrine
An impressively-decorated shrine dedicated to the divine mythological ancestors of the Japanese emperor.

The mountainous region of Kirishima is to Shinto as the Garden of Eden is to Christianity — the site of its most ancient creation myths. It’s said that Ninigi no Mikoto, the grandson of the sun goddess, thrust a spear down from heaven, made his way down to where it landed, found himself a human wife, and started the Japanese imperial family which still holds power today.

Okay, so maybe you don’t believe that the Japanese emperor is a relative of a sun goddess, but the shrine dedicated to her grandson is really worth a visit. This is actually the second site of the shrine, because wooden buildings typically never lasted too long when built around the feet of volcanoes.

Its current incarnation dates back to 1715, and fears spacious, ornate buildings. Next to the main building you’ll spot a cedar tree over 800 years old, and behind there are some minor altars dedicated to the Shinto gods.

If you’d rather go even more old-school, you can also head to the original location of the shrine at Takechihogawara. Rituals are still held here every month, so if you’re visiting on the 10th then you might have a chance of seeing one.

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