Sitting at the summit of picturesque Mount Mitsumine in Chichibu is the ancient Mitsumine shrine. The shrine’s storied history goes back to the 7th century and the enshrined gods are believed to have created the islands of Japan. The journey there is a refreshing drive up gently winding mountain roads. A visit to Mitsumine Shrine is the perfect day trip for those in need of a natural recharge among the trees.
Markers of History
At the highest point of the shrine’s grounds stands a large bronze statue of its legendary founder, the ancient Japanese prince, Yamato Takeru. He appears in Japanese mythology and is believed by some to have existed. The real version of the sword depicted with the statue is said to be the one used during enthronement ceremonies for Japan’s Emperors.
A stone’s throw from the statue is a monument to the founder of Kyokushin karate, Masutatsu Oyama. He regularly trained on the holy mountain and is celebrated there annually on the anniversary of his death.
Worship from A Distance
Before approaching the main shrine some visitors take the rough mountain trail to the distant Okumiya rear shrine. Luckily, devotees have the option to skip the trek and pray from the Okumiya Yohaiden pavilion on the Mitsumine grounds instead. This pavilion is also one of the most visually stunning areas of Mitsumine shrine, under the right conditions visitors can experience the sea of clouds phenomena.
Blessings and Power
The first torii gate (shrine gate) is guarded by two wolf statues as the shrine’s founder is believed to have been led to the site by wolves. At the head of the path to the main worship hall stands a vibrant Zuishimon gate that once housed two Nio warrior statues. The worship hall itself is decorated with colorful carvings and is flanked by towering cedar trees. These 800-year-old trees are regarded as sources of power and visitors can touch them to receive this energy.
Even below your feet at Mitsumine Shrine there is power. One of the cobblestones on the worship hall’s landing produces the image of a red-eyed dragon when sprinkled with water. The image is regarded as auspicious as it suddenly appeared in 2012, the year of the dragon.
A Place To Rest
After gathering all the power the shrine has to offer, make use of the bathhouse on the grounds. The soba shop on the way back to the parking lot is another great rest area with sprawling mountain views. The shop is also great for grilled treats, local woodcraft souvenirs, or that picture with a taxidermy bear you’ve always wanted.