Japanese mythology is filled with eye-catchy deities and heroes. The Amano Iwato Shrine is dedicated to Amaterasu, the Shinto goddess of the sun and the universe. The cave that the traditional Torii gates frame is where Amaterasu is said to have hidden, after her brother Susanoo pulled an array of cruel acts fuelled by his restlessness, such as destroying her rice field, throwing a flayed pony at her, and killing one of her attendants.

  • Amano Iwato Shrine

    Amano Iwato Shrine

    Devastated and rage-filled, Amaterasu hid in the Amano Iwato cave (heavenly rock cave). No other deity could get her to come out. The sun fell from the sky and covered the world in darkness. The deities tried everything they could think of, to no avail. Finally, one of the gods performed an outrageously funny dance, which ultimately caught the goddess’ attention and pulled her out from the cave.

    Amano Iwato Shrine

    Amano Iwato Shrine

    The sunlight which even today courses down the valley dispersed by the mist inspires travelers to think of Amaterasu’s light which returned to the world long ago. The vivid green of the naturally occurring plant life, including rare, ancient Ginkgo and Michelia Compressa trees, and dark crumbling rocks make the cave and the surrounding areas genuinely mythical.

    Amano Iwato Shrine

    Amano Iwato Shrine

    The Shrine’s main buildings, called Higashi-hongu, and the west hall, Nishi-hongu, are located across the Iwato River Gorge across from the cave. Made in traditional Shinto style around the 9th century, the dark colored, wooden buildings hold traditional yearly festivals. Travelers are also able to get guided tours by a priest, though these tours are only available in Japanese for now. You will also need to go through the main building to access the observation deck to view the cave.

    Amano Iwato Shrine

    Amano Iwato Shrine

    Lining the river that runs through the valley are piles of stones which travelers use to mark their pilgrimage to the sacred sight. The piles are on what is called ‘power spots’ and are accessible via a short walk from the main buildings. You may first walk past a couple of smaller piles, but as you walk on down the river, the piles of stone become more plentiful until you feel surrounded as they reach as far as the eye can see.

    Amano Iwato Shrine

    Amano Iwato Shrine

    Admission is free, and travelers can take as long as they wish to explore the area. Getting there is not difficult with a 15-minute bus ride operating between Takachiho Bus Centre and the Shrine. There is one about every two hours, and it will cost 300 yen one way. Alternatively, you can also catch a taxi for around 2,500 yen.

    Amanoiwato Jinja
    rating

    4.5

    379 Reviews
    place
    Miyazaki Prefecture Nishiusuki-gun, Takachiho-cho, amano-iwato 1073-1
    phone
    0982748239
    opening-hour
    8:30-17:00

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