Located on the beautiful island of Aoshima in the Miyazaki Prefecture lies the majestic Aoshima-jinja Shrine. Aoshima is a small island, spanning a mere 1.5km in circumference, and is surrounded by a bedrock that has been worn away by the waves into abstract shapes that look like giant washboards, known as the Devil’s Washboard.
The Aoshima Shrine is a popular venue for couples as it supposedly offers a divine blessing, particularly to those who plan for marriage. Ema votive tablets (small wooden plaques) and other amulets are available to buy for this purpose. The Aoshima Shrine is one of the several shrines located all over Miyazaki that represent the Seven Deities of Good Luck, with this one in particular dedicated to Benten, the goddess of femininity, literature, music and wealth.
What makes visiting Aoshima Shrine an incredible experience is its tropical backdrop. Tropical plants native to Aoshima flourish on the island. Set amongst this gorgeous glade, it offers a harmonious environment in which to contemplate, reflect and relax. A short path can be found located on the right hand side of the shrine’s main building, this path will lead you through the jungle to a smaller outlying shrine.
It is on this little journey that you can hang up an ema votive tablet to pray for a good partner or a good meeting. This pathway offers a tranquil and calming experience due to the surrounding scenery and serene silence. Once you arrive at the smaller shrine, you can buy clay disks which are thrown at a target for luck or alternatively, tie a coloured string to a tree.
You can continue your journey into Japan’s rich history by visiting the Hyuga Shinwakan wax museum, located in the shrine’s grounds. The museum is home to a variety of gods common to ancient legends and myths. Once a year, on December 17th, the grand “Hadakamairi,” also known as the “nude shrine visit” is held. This festival coincides with Coming of Age Day - a time which brings in large numbers of visitors from across Japan. It is based on the legend of Hikohohode no Mikoto, who lived in the sea for a number of years and then returned without having enough time to put on his clothes. In Japan, you come of age when you reach twenty, but the day is celebrated by people of all ages. Donning white pants, participants cleanse themselves in the cold sea before visiting the shrine.
To get to Aoshima Shrine, you can take a 30 minute train ride from Miyazaki Station to Aoshima Station on the JR Nichinan Line for 370 yen, and the shrine is about a ten to fifteen minute walk from the station. Be aware that as this is a local train line, trains only depart around once per hour. Alternatively, the drive from Miyazaki will take around 30 minutes also, with parking available near Aoshima Station.
- Aoshima Jinja
- Miyazaki Pref. Miyazakishi Aoshima 2-13-1
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