Amano Iwato Shrine
The cave of the sun goddess.
Shrouded in a cave that sits on the edge of the ravine, Amano Iwato shrine is a seriously atmospheric stop on your travels around Takachiho.
Located just 10 kilometres outside of Takachiho city centre, the shrine was said to have been built nearby a cave in which the goddess of the Sun, Amaterasu, took refuge from her brother’s incessant pranks. Separated from the main buildings by a river, the cave cannot be directly accessed unless you enlist the help of a priest via a guided tour.
If you follow the main path, you will be brought to a small road covered in shrubbery and rocks; following this path will bring you to the smaller shrine known as the Amano Yasukawara. You will see stones neatly piled on top of one another as you near the shrine proper.
The significance of Amano Yasukawara also lies in the original legend of Amaterasu. This shrine was said to have been the meeting point of all the gods and goddesses, all of whom came together to discuss potential ways of luring Amaterasu out of her cave.
Although it is still relatively unclear when the shrine was erected, many believe that the east hall, known as the higashi-hongu, was built sometime during the 9th century. It is also from the west hall, or the nishi-hongu, that you can get a good view of the cave without having to join a tour on happy the condition that you take part in a purification ceremony.