Hananoiwaya Shrine is located along the coast of Mie Prefecture’s Kumano City.
In 2004, Hananoiwaya Shrine was registered as a World Heritage Site as part of the “Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes of the Kii Mountain Range.”
According to Japan’s first history book, the “Nihon Shiki,” which was written in 720, Hananoiwaya Shrine is the oldest Shinto shrine in Japan.
Despite being called a shrine, Hananoiwaya Shrine has no main shrine or inner sanctuary; the shintai, or shrine’s object of worship, is the 45-meter-tall giant white rock. This location is also famous as a “power spot,” a place full of mystical energy.
The “mother of kami and creator of Japan,” Izanami-no-Mikoto, and the kami of fire, Kagutsuchi-no-Mikoto, are enshrined at Hananoiwaya Shrine.
Every year on February 2nd and October 2nd the “Otsunakake Shinji” is held, where flowers decorate the shrine and dances are performed. After the dances, a 170-meter-long rope, said to be the longest in Japan, is stretched by locals from the highest point of the rock to a pillar at the southern part of the grounds. The rope is left until it breaks on its own, and as such sometimes there are two ropes at once. This is said to be an omen of good luck.
Basic information on Hananoiwaya Shrine
- 130 Arima-cho, Kumano City, Mie Prefecture
- 14 minutes on foot from JR Kisei Main Line’s Arii Sation
- 0597-89-0100 (Kumano City Tourist Association)