Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Kumano Kodo: Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine

The second of the Kumano Sanzan shrines that we visited was the Kumano Hayatama shrine. Having visited the Kumano Hongu Shrine, the previous evening, we had planned to visit the Kumano Hayatama shrine, Kumano Nachi shrine and Taiji Whale Museum on the second day of our camping trip. We passed by a section of the picturesque Dorokyo gorge on our way from the Watase campground to Shingu city, where the Kumano Hayatama shrine is located.  

The Kumano Hayatama shrine, is located on the banks of the Kumanogawa river in Shingu city. In the old days, travellers would undertake a section of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage from the Kumano Hongu Taisha shrine to the Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine by boat. This waterway has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage as the only river pilgrimage route in the world. 
The shrine is said to have been constructed in the 12th century, but the current buildings are a recent reconstruction. However like the other Kumano Sanzan shrines, the area is said to have been worshipped since the 3rd century. Originally the shrine is said to have been located at the site of the Kamikura shrine. It is believed that twelve Shinto deities, the kami, descended from heaven on the Gotobiki iwa rock on a hill near the Hayatama shrine. The Kamikura shrine stands at the exact spot where the deities are said to have descended. A steep stairway, some 500 odd steps takes visitors to this shrine. We did see a part of the Kamikura shrine's building and the sacred Gotobiki-iwa rock from the car as we drove through Shingu, but we did not visit the shrine. 

The architecture of the Kumano Hayatama Shrine is similar to many Shinto shrines in the country.

An ancient Nagi tree is the sacred tree, located in the shrine precincts is worshipped too. 
The leaves of the Nagi tree are considered a good luck charm for success in love as its leaves do not tear off. The tree has been designated a national treasure. 

Pictures of the sacred three legged crow, the Yatagarasu can be seen at this shrine too. 

We saw two bridal couples at the Kumano Hayatama shrine. 
While one wedding ceremony was in progress, the other couple was walking on the shrine precincts, visiting the smaller shrines and sacred spots.

Address: 647-0081, Wakayama Prefecture, Shingu, Shingu-1

Phone: 0735-22-2533

Hours: 8:00-17:00 hrs

Closing Days: No Closing Days

Admission Fees: Free; Treasure Hall- 500 yen. 

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