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Akama Jingu

Visit the boy emperor enshrined at Akama Jingu

By Elizabeth Sok

Located in Yamaguchi Prefecture’s Shimonoseki City, Akama Jingu is a Shinto shrine with a unique appearance that records a key moment in Japanese history. Dedicated to children and the sea, this site is a great option as you explore the nearby Karato Market.

Emperor Antoku

Akama JinguPhoto by: PIXTA/ kazukiatuko

Enshrined at Akama Jingu is the young ruler, Emperor Antoku. Almost a thousand years ago, two groups who struggled to attain dominance across Japan and the imperial court were engaged in a conflict called the Genpei War. Although it would only last about five years at the end of the 12th century, it was a significant transition in the history of the country with the victorious Minamoto clan defeating its rival, the Taira clan, bringing an end to the classical Heian period and launching the Kamakura period.

In one of the final engagements of the war, a naval battle that took place at Shimonoseki Strait, the losing Taira brought out the six-year-old emperor to boost morale. Ultimately, the Taira lost the battle and the larger war soon after, but not before the boy’s grandmother drowned him and herself once defeat appeared to be certain to avoid capture as Minamoto forces closed in.

Akama Jingu

Akama JinguPhoto by: PIXTA/kazukiatuko

The origins of this Shinto shrine lie in Buddhism as it was founded in 859 as a Buddhist temple. Several years after the untimely death of Emperor Antoku in 1191, his spirit was enshrined at the temple and the location has been linked to the imperial family ever since. With the separation between Shintoism and Buddhism ordered by the Japanese government in the late 19th century, the temple was turned into a shrine and renamed Akama Jingu in 1940. Although the shrine was destroyed during the Second World War, its reconstruction was completed in 1965.

The main hall is the most popular highlight as it is the location of the spirit of Emperor Antoku. Throughout the complex, you’ll also be able to see other memorials and statues devoted to the Taira clan. During the Golden Week holiday period in early May, the shrine hosts its annual festival, the Emperor’s Festival. Here, you’ll be able to see a memorial service to the Taira clan who lost the Genpei War as well as a separate ceremony reserved for the boy emperor complete with children in traditional attire.

Things To Know


The shrine is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is free

How To Get There


By bus

Take a 10-minute bus ride from JR Shimonoseki station or a 20-minute bus ride from JR Shin-Shimonoseki station. 

By car

From the Chugoku Expressway, take the Shimonoseki IC and arrive at the shrine in about 13 minutes.

Where To Stay

Shimonoseki Grand Hotel
  • 31-2 Nabecho, Shimonoseki-shi, Yamaguchi, 750-0006 Japan
  • ¥5,500 - ¥28,000
  • 4.36/5 (1,195 reviews)
  • 0.7 km
Premier Hotel Mojiko
  • 9-11 Kabushikikaishiya Mojikohoteru, Kitakyushu-shi Moji-ku, Fukuoka, 801-8503 Japan
  • ¥9,540 - ¥78,566
  • 4.29/5 (3,075 reviews)
  • 1.9 km
Hotel Route-Inn Mojiko
  • 2-11-2 Nishikaigan, Kitakyushu-shi Moji-ku, Fukuoka, 801-0841 Japan
  • ¥6,500 - ¥34,000
  • 4.1/5 (1,438 reviews)
  • 2.3 km
Dormy Inn Premium Shimonoseki
  • 3-40 Hosoeshimmachi, Shimonoseki-shi, Yamaguchi, 750-0017 Japan
  • ¥11,000 - ¥67,914
  • 4.29/5 (2,425 reviews)
  • 2.3 km
Via Inn Shimonoseki (JR West Group)
  • 4-2-33 Takezakicho, Shimonoseki-shi, Yamaguchi, 750-0025 Japan
  • ¥6,223 - ¥25,992
  • 4.16/5 (532 reviews)
  • 2.4 km

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