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Ouo Shrine

A seaside shrine with floating torii gates dedicated to a mystical giant fish.

Many of the shrines around Japan have quirky origins stories, but this one has to be one of the best. The story goes that around 300 years ago, the local peasants were none too happy with the ruling magistrate. To get rid of him, they got him drunk then marooned him on the sacred island of Okinoshima, far to the north of Fukuoka City.

Just when all seemed lost for the corrupt official, a magical fish answered his pleas for help, and carried him back to Kyushu. As a thanks he built the unimaginatively-named “Large Fish Shrine” (a literal translation of the name) on the coast of the Ariake Sea in Saga. The coast here has the biggest tidal variance in all of Japan, with an incredible 6m of difference. This makes for some nice coastal scenery

Although nowadays the mystical pescatarian hero of the story is nowhere to be seen, the three floating torii gates dedicated to it are a popular spot for photography. When the tide is low, you can walk right up to them, but they’re most beautiful at high tide when their red posts juts out of the waters. In August, the Yukino Lantern Festival sees over 500 lanterns arranged in front of the gates, which sets a lovely atmosphere as twilight dawns over the ocean.

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