Kumano Shrine

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A distinctive red torii gate leads to Kumano Shrine, a hillside shrine shrouded in an aura of mystery. The Shinto sanctuary has deep historical connections to the therapeutic waters of Shimobe Onsen, and is almost certainly the only Japanese place of worship to incorporate a giant slide.

Climbing the lantern-lined path up the hill to the shrine, you will see that its facade is covered in the scrawl of marker pens: requests for healing from those who have come to Shimobe to treat limb ailments and other health issues, mixed with follow-up messages of gratitude, are here written directly onto the shrine. (The custom elsewhere is to write entreaties onto wooden votive boards or ema, which are then hung up.) Note how certain messages, scrawled over two decades ago, appear as fresh as if written yesterday.

Belief in Kumano Shrine's healing powers dates back to its founding. Fujiwara Masanobu, the local lord of what was then Kai Province, is said to have received treatment at Shimobe Onsen in the ninth century. While here one night, the god Kumano appeared in Fujiwara’s dream and said, “Worship me on this mountain,” prompting Kumano Shrine’s establishment.

Just adjacent to the shrine is a stage used for annual performances of kagura, a highly theatrical ceremonial dance. Walk a little southwards from there to discover Kumano Shrine’s toboggan-style osuberidai (“big slide”). A climb up to the slide’s hilltop starting point is rewarded with superb views.


Venue Address

404-0036 Enzan Kumano, Koshu-shi

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