Photo By: Gary Luscombe
Region
Kansai
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Nara
Population
1,442,862

Kashihara Jingu

An impressive shrine dedicated to the first Emperor and the origin of civilization in Japan.

In around 600 BCE, a man set out from near the modern city of Hyūga in Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu, with his army, intent on bringing all of Japan under his control. He landed at Naniwa (Osaka) and marched south, following a great crow known as the Yata-Garasu, subjugating Wakayama and Mie Prefectures before finally conquering Yamato (Nara).

That man was Jimmu-Tennō, the first Emperor of Japan and it was at the foot of Mount Unebi in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture that he established the first capital of Japan.

Photo by: Gary Luscombe The inner worship hall.

Skip forward some 1,800 years, and while nothing remained of the original palace, the people of Meiji Period Japan successfully petitioned the government to build a shrine dedicated to Emperor Jimmu in he same spot near Mount Unebi.

The Omote-sandō or main approach to Kashihara-jingu is long and wide, only a little smaller than those of ancient Ise Grand Shrine and Tokyo’s Meiji Shrine. Its courtyard is dominated by the Ge-haiden, a huge hall that acts as the outer worship hall. Inside are the usual offering boxes for tossing coins and these sit in front of a carefully raked inner courtyard.

Photo by: Gary Luscombe Fukada-ike Pond.

On the far side is Nai-haiden or Inner Worship Hall. This one is slightly smaller than the outer hall and gives the impression that it has a pair of Chigi (the crossed gable ends you see on roof of most shrines), sticking out of the center of the roof. Actually they are part of the roof of yet another hall, simply called the Haiden that sits behind the inner hall and joins it to the Honden or main hall that sits right at the heart of the shrine.

Cradle of Japanese civilization

Much of the shrine grounds are covered in dense woodland with several paths snake through the trees leading to smaller surrounding shrines. Opposite the south gate is a large pond called Fukada-ike which is popular place for joggers and painters.

The tomb of Emperor Jimmu is also quite close to Kashihara-jingu, about a 10 minute walk from the north gate. Unlike many kofun type tombs which are often in the middle of modern residential areas, Emperor Jimmu’s is surrounded by nothing but trees. His son, and the 2nd Emperor, Suizei-Tennō, is buried just a few minutes further north from his father.

Photo by: Gary Luscombe Tombs of Emperor Itoku (top) and Annei (bottom).

On the opposite side of Kashihara-jingu, a short walk from the Fukada-ike pond, you can also find the tombs of Annei-Tenno and Itoku-Tenno, the 3rd and 4th Emperors respectively.

Kashihara-jingu is a fascinating shrine with some beautiful buildings and steeped in history. It is also quite easy to reach, especially if you are already planning a trip to the nearby sacred Mount Yoshino. It is also very close to another former capital, Asuka, making the area perfect for people interested in the earliest days of Japan.

Discover more cultural gems all over the Japan.

Topics: , , ,

Trivia

Nachi, Japan at the pagoda of Seigantoji and Nachi no Taki waterfall, Wakayama Prefecture

Wakayama

Wakayama prefecture is the spectacular, spiritual heart of Japan.

More

Things To Know

Fees

Entry is free

Language Support

A small English language pamphlet can be requested from one of the buildings just inside the shrine grounds, to the left of the main entrance.

Festivals

Feb. 11 (National Foundation Day), April 3 (Spring Festival) and Nov. 3 (Autumn Festival).

How To Get There

Address

Japan, 〒634-0065 Nara-ken, Kashihara-shi, Unebichō

By train

Take the Kintetsu Minami-Osaka line from Osaka-Abenobashi station. You may have to switch trains at Furuich station in which case, you can take a train bound for Yoshino or Kashihara-jingumae and get off at either Kashihara-nishiguchi or Kashihara-jingumae stations.

Where To Stay

Kashihara Oak Hotel
  • Kume-choJingumae 905-2 Kashihara-Shi, Nara 634-0063
  • 6.9/10
  • 0.7 km
Powered by Booking.com
The Kashihara
  • Kume-cho 652-2 Kashihara-Shi, Nara 634-0063
  • 8.1/10
  • 0.9 km
Powered by Booking.com
Guesthouse Nijinotane
  • 53-1 Kashihara-Shi, Nara 634-0032
  • 7.2/10
  • 1.5 km
Powered by Booking.com
Yamato Kashihara City Hotel
  • Yagi-cho 1-18-16 Kashihara-Shi, Nara 634-0078
  • 6.3/10
  • 2.4 km
Powered by Booking.com