A visit to this quirky shrine based on the famous Japanese children’s tale will leave you feeling peachy.
Inuyama City in central Aichi Prefecture may be better known for its castle and fireworks festival along the Kiso River, but it is also home to the wonderfully bizarre Momotaro Shrine. Momotaro, known across Japan as the boy born from a peach, is the main character of a beloved tale of bravery and friendship in which he defeats a gang of ogres along with his three animal companions.
The world of peach boy
At the entrance stands a statue of Momotaro stark naked and bursting out of a peach which makes for a perfect photo op before entering the shrine. Climb up the stone steps to reach the main shrine, where Momotaro’s brightly colored friends (and enemies) can be seen all around.
In the story, Momotaro is found by an elderly couple when they see a giant peach floating down the river. When they open the peach and a boy comes out, they adopt him. You’ll find a statue of the old woman from the story standing beside a washing stone which the shrine claims to have actually belonged to the old woman herself. Two footprints can be seen in the stone and they are attributed to the old woman’s decades of semi-fanatical laundering. Talk about dedication.
At the entrance stands a statue of Momotaro stark naked and bursting out of a peach which makes for a perfect photo op.
Looming before the shrine is an oddity not to be found anywhere else in the world—a giant peach-shaped torii gate. Pass through the gate and leave a coin or two in the dog’s outstretched palms before paying your respects at the shrine. People typically visit the Momotaro Shrine to pray for the protection and wellbeing of children, and there is a large Momotaro festival held every year on Children’s Day (May 5).
Momotaro museum and park
For a small entrance fee, there is also a Momotaro museum with even more statues and scenes depicting the band of heroes. A self-proclaimed “friendly ogre” bids visitors to climb on his back, and the museum features various artifacts relating to the legend of Momotaro and ogre lore.
The fun doesn’t stop after exiting the shrine, though. Standing directly opposite of the entrance is Momotaro park, where you can do some shopping and even try your hand at making shinoyaki, a form of pottery unique to the Chubu region of Japan.
Of course, no shrine to Momotaro would be complete without a place to purchase kibidango, the small dumplings that Momotaro shared with his animal companions to gain their trust. Here you’ll find a souvenir shop that has been peddling these little treats for 80 years.
Momotaro Shrine’s location right in front of the Kiso River makes it a popular spot for nature-lovers. You can pitch a tent and stay the night in the surrounding area if you don’t want to leave yet. Just watch out for ogres.