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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

History

Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine 熊野速玉大社

A sacred shrine and home to an 800-year-old tree

Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine is one of three grand shrines that make up the Kumano Sanzan. Along with its important role as a pilgrimage destination, its grounds are home to natural monuments sanctified as deities, including a sacred conifer tree, the largest in all Japan. The shrine sits on the banks of the Kumano River. The shrine's original site, Kamikuri-jinja Shrine, is nearby.

Don't Miss

  • Nagi-no-Ki, the 800-year-old ancient conifer tree, which is also a god
  • Oto Matsuri, the fire festival of torch-bearing runners
  • Gotobiki-iwa, the revered monolith where gods touched the earth
  • Mifune Matsuri, boat races on the Kumano river

How to Get There

The shrine is located a 15-minute walk from JR Shingu station.

The Express train from Shin-Osaka will take you there in just over four hours. Kamikuri-jinja Shrine takes around 15 minutes on foot from Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine.

Quick Facts

Similar to Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine, the facade of Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine is painted a striking vermillion red

Twelve gods are enshrined behind the shrine's wooden walls

The shrine's treasure room holds over 1,000 holy treasures including gifts from the 15th and 16th century Imperial Households

Sacred roots

In the grounds of the shrine sits an ancient Nagi tree. Thought to be around 800-1,000 years old, the tree has been named an official Natural Monument of Japan.

The tree is somewhat popular with couples because the symmetrical structure of its leaves is said to represent a harmonious relationship.

Smooth sailing

While most of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage route involves trekking through field and forest, one section requires no legwork at all.

A slice of the Kumano River is a designated part of the route and pilgrims could travel to Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine by boat. Today, rustic wooden boats from Hitari transport visitors on a 90-minute trip down the river to the shrine.

Rock gods

The Kamikuri-jinja Shrine, located a short walk from the temple, is the original site for Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine and a strong connection between the two sites remains.

Legend states that the Kumano deities descended to earth and onto the giant rock that dwarfs the site. To get closer to the sacred monolith you need to climb a steep, uneven staircase hewn from the natural rock.

Way of the dragon

The stone staircase leading up to Kamikuri-jinja Shrine also provides the stage for a dramatic winter event. The Oto Matsuri Fire Festival held every February 6th sees a cascade of local men clad in white storm down the staircase carrying blazing torches.

Akin to a fire-breathing dragon careering out of the gates of the shrine, this festival remains one of the liveliest in the country.

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