While many shrines and temples exist in Japan, one of the most major historical shrines is hidden on an unassuming island in Hyogo prefecture. The shrine is called Izanagi Shrine and is intimately connected with Japanese mythology.
Roots in Japanese mythology
Photo by: WikiCommons/ Saigen Jiro
According to the Japanese “Kuniumi” myth, the first island in Japan was none other than Awaji. The myth states that the island was formed by a god and goddess duo named Izanagi and Izanami.
The shrine is located on Awaji island and is devoted to the deities. It is the sole grand shrine in Hyogo Prefecture, and the legend is that it is the oldest shrine in all of Japan. If you’re a Japanese history and folklore fan, this shrine deserves a spot at the top of your go-to list.
Exploring the shrine grounds
Photo by: WikiCommons/ Bachstelze
The antiquated atmosphere is prevalent, with most of the architecture being from the Meiji era. The shrine also contains a few noteworthy trees, such as a giant camphor that Emperor Hirohito planted.
The 900-year-old camphor tree with a height of around 30 meters is known as the Meoto-no-okusu. The rare camphor was initially two distinct trees combined into one giant tree as they grew together. This interesting phenomenon gave them the appellation “husband and wife.”
The sacred tree
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The holy tree is home to the spirits of Izanagi and Izanami, known as the marriage deities. To this today, many still worship the tree in the hopes that it will bring them success in their intimate relationships, marriage, and delivery of a healthy child. You can walk up to the tree and press your hands against it to feel the magic firsthand.
In honor of the god and goddess, visitors frequent this shrine all year. Most guests from inside and outside the island come especially during the new year festivities.