The Five Shrines of Togakushi The Five Shrines of Togakushi

The Five Shrines of Togakushi


2017.11.16

NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR

The Five Shrines of Togakushi

In the mountainous area of Northern Nagano sit the five shrines of Togakushi spread out around the base of Mt. Togakushi. Steeped in history and legend, this magical area worshipped by many boasts three shrine spots and a whole host of nature rich walking trails that wind in and out of 400-year old cedar trees and along streams and bridges.

  • The Five Shrines of Togakushi

    The Five Shrines of Togakushi

    Originally established as a pilgrimage route over 2,000 years ago, the Togakushi area has a rich history as a place of worship. The five Shinto Buddhist shrines that now sit around the base of Mt. Togakushi are each dedicated to different gods with the most elevated Okusha Shrine said to play an important role in the famous myth of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. As far as the legend goes, the Sun Goddess hid away in a cave after a disagreement with her brother which plunged Japan into darkness. After eventually being lured out by the other Gods, the cave was thrown all the way from the southern island Kyushu to Nagano and the spot it landed in was thereafter named Togakushi which translates as “hidden door”.

    The Five Shrines of Togakushi

    The Five Shrines of Togakushi

    The lower shrine is the first stop-off point you’ll arrive at along the Togakushi Shrine route. Enveloped in a wood of cedar trees, the first of the shrines greet worshippers onto the grounds with Hoko-sha Shrine attended to pray to the God for women and children, while Hino-miko-sha Shrine is said to be good luck for marriage, the performing arts, and fire prevention. The lower shrine is accessible by buses number 70 or 71 which go directly from Nagano Station in 50 minutes for 1,150 yen. For those with a car, take the exciting 30-minute drive up the Birdline Highway.

    The Five Shrines of Togakushi

    The Five Shrines of Togakushi

    The middle shrine, dominated by Chu-sha Shrine and the torii gate that protects it is around a 40-minute walk further up towards Mt. Togakushi or a 10-minute bus ride. The Kids’ Ninja Village can also be found at this halfway point which is open from 9am to 5pm for an entry fee of 500 yen or 230 yen for children 6 and under. The Togakushi Ski Area is also just a little further up from this point where a one-day ski pass comes in at around 4,000 yen.

    The Five Shrines of Togakushi

    The Five Shrines of Togakushi

    The walk up from the middle shrine to the upper shrine is undoubtedly one of the highlights of a trip to Togakushi with the path winding along pretty streams and through forests of 400-year-old cedar trees which tower over the path from overwhelming heights. The final stretch of the 40-minute walk up to the highest shrine involves a good climb up few hundred steps until you reach Okusha Shrine.

    The Five Shrines of Togakushi

    The Five Shrines of Togakushi

    Found at high altitude in the Nagano mountains, the Togakushi route is subject to heavy snowfall in the winter months. With a walk through knee-deep snow taking visitors a lot longer than the usual 40-minute stroll, it’s recommended to catch the bus which follows the snow-ploughed road all the way to the upper shrine for 1,350 yen one way. Alternatively, pick up a Togakushi Kogen Free Kippu bus ticket for 2,600 yen which gives you the freedom to jump on and off buses between Nagano and Togakushi as well as the benefit of an additional trip from Nagano Station to Zenkoji Temple.

    The Five Shrines of Togakushi

    The Five Shrines of Togakushi

    This picturesque corner of Nagano Prefecture isn’t just worth a visit for the shrines of Togakushi but has a number of other activities and things to see. The extensive walking trails lead all the way up and out to more stunning nature brimming with birdlife where you can also find lakes, farms, and a camping ground. With soba noodles a popular dish in the area lunch opportunities are aplenty, as well as the chance to make your own noodles.

    Togakushi-jinja Shrine
    place
    Nagano Pref. Naganoshi Togakushi
    phone
    0262542001
    opening-hour
    Free worship
    Togakushi-jinja Shrine Hokosha
    place
    Nagano Pref. Naganoshi Togakushi Treasure Co.
    phone
    0262542001
    Togakushi Shrine Hinomikosha
    place
    Nagano Pref. Naganoshi Togakushi
    phone
    0262542001
  • Togakushi Shrine Chusha
    place
    Nagano Pref. Naganoshi Togakushi 3506
    phone
    0262542001
    opening-hour
    9:00-17:00
    Togakushi Shrine Okusha (Main Shrine)
    place
    Nagano Pref. Naganoshi Togakushi Okusha
    phone
    0262542001
    opening-hour
    Jan.-Mid-Apr. Closed in wint…

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