## A beautifully ornate temple known as the Nikko of the West
One of Japan's oldest Shinto shrines, Kirishima Shrine is called the Nikko of the West for its stunning vermillion facade and detailed, colorful reliefs, which contrast with the surrounding greenery.
The surrounding mountains are where the god Ninigi no Mikoto is said to have descended from heaven to rule the earth
The current shrine has been rebuilt several times after being destroyed by volcanic activity
The shrine is accessible by train, bus, or car.
Kirishima Shrine is in walking distance of Kirishima Jingu Station and a short drive from Kirishima Onsen.
Trains run regularly from Kagoshima City (45 minutes). Buses run from Kagoshima Airport with a brief change at Maruo.
Driving a rental car is recommended to get the most out of the Kirishima area.
According to Japanese mythology, Ninigi no Mikoto, grandson of the sun goddess Amaterasu, descended to earth at the peak of nearby Mt. Takachiho and married a local princess, thus becoming a mortal. This ancient shrine was constructed around the sixth century in his honor. The shrine was originally located at the foot of the sacred Mt. Takachiho, but after being repeatedly burned down by volcanic eruptions, it was moved to its current location. The shrine, which was rebuilt in 1715, is an Important Cultural Property of Japan.
An 800-year-old cedar tree next to the main shrine building is testament to the roots of this spiritual spot, and you can almost feel the ancient energy in the air. Make sure to walk behind the ornately decorated main building to the lesser-visited shrines for a more personal encounter with the mountain god.
For the more adventurous traveler, a visit to the shrine's original location at Takechiho-gawara, which is also the start of the Kirishima hiking trail, is recommended. On the tenth of each month a Shinto ceremony is held by priests from Kirishima Shrine, and the desolate location is reminiscent of a scene from an Akira Kurosawa movie.