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Photo By: PIXTA/papa88
Region
Kyushu
Island
Kyushu
Largest City
Oita
Population
1,221,128

Usa Jingu

Explore one of the shrine where Shintoism and Buddhism meet

By Elizabeth Sok

Constructed in the eighth century, Usa Jingu is a shrine located on Oita Prefecture’s Kunisaki Peninsula. For a leisurely walk through one of Japan’s most historically important shrines, head over to Usa Jingu.

The roots of Usa Jingu lie at the beginning of the 700s when its first Shinto shrine was created. Also known as Usa Hachimanjingu, this shrine is home to several deities with Hachiman being the most significant.

Shrine Background

Usa Jingu

Photo by: PIXTA/papa88 Usa Jingu held a considerable amount of power in Kyushu, second only to Fukuoka’s Daizaifu Tenmangu.

According to legend, the 15th emperor of Japan, Emperor Orin, was deified as Hachiman, a god of war and archery. At present, there are over 40,000 shrines throughout Japan dedicated to Hachiman and Usa Jingu ranks as the most important of all.

Over the centuries, countless political and military leaders have called on the god for protection by visiting the shrine and it has maintained a close relationship with the imperial family. During this early period, Usa Jingu held a considerable amount of power in Kyushu, second only to Fukuoka’s Daizaifu Tenmangu shrine, and was once one of the largest landowners on the island. As Japan entered the Kamamura period and samurai became increasingly powerful in the political landscape, Usa Jingu’s influence diminished over time.

Where Two Worlds Collide

Usa Jingu

Photo by: PIXTA/ Y.BLUE Usa Jingu houses several important buildings and structures that are a must-see on any visit.

Due to its long history and continuing significance, Usa Jingu houses several important buildings and structures that are a must-see on any visit. In the early part of the shrine’s history, Buddhism was introduced to Japan and the Kunisaki region became a key site for the blending of Shinto and the new belief system.

In the middle of the 19th century, however, the government declared a separation between the two religions and all Buddhist structures were removed. Nevertheless, Usa Jingu is considered to be the first shrine-temple complex in the country’s history and elements of that syncretism are still visible today, particularly in its annual festivals.

Shrine Highlights

Usa Jingu

Photo by: PIXTA/papa88 Check out Kurehashi Bridge.

The main hall and adjoining Kujaku Monkei building also make this shrine a unique visit for architecture lovers. These designated National Treasures are the earliest examples of the Hachiman-zukuri architectural style which gives the illusion of two distinct buildings on the outside, although functionally one on the inside.

As you stroll around the complex, be sure to check out the Kurehashi Bridge, a covered walkway stretching over a body of water. Although the bridge itself is closed except for once every decade for a festival, its vermillion exterior and intricately designed structure shouldn’t be missed!

Things To Know

HOURS AND FEES

The shrine is open every day from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. While admission is free, the Treasure Hall costs ¥300 to enter. 

How To Get There

Address

1411 Nijōshikaka, Itoshima, Fukuoka 819-1642, Japan

By bus

 From JR Usa station, take a 7-minute bus ride.

By car

From the West Kyushu Expressway, get off at the Innai IC toward National Road 387. Follow the signs for Usa Jingu.

Where To Stay

Usa Hotel Riverside
  • 6 Byu, Usa-shi, Oita, 879-0462 Japan
  • ¥5,780 - ¥17,860
  • 3.78/5 (138 reviews)
  • 3.1 km
Hotel Public 21
  • 230 Karashima, Usa-shi, Oita, 879-0456 Japan
  • ¥6,900 - ¥8,200
  • 3.8/5 (1,123 reviews)
  • 3.7 km

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