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Munakata Taisha Hetsugū~Where to see

Article writtenFebruary 2nd, 2020
A memorandum of facts about shrines visited. Munakata Taisha is the head shrine of more than 6000 Munakata shrines and Itsukushima shrines around Japan located in Munakata city, Fukuoka prefecture. Where to see at Munakata Taisha Hetsugū.
Please check official information before visiting. Information here may be out of date.
Please check official information before visiting. Information here may be out of date.

Chōzu-ishi

Inside the "Chōzuya", a watershed to cleanse your hands, there is a "Chōzu-ishi", a water bowl, which is a large monolith.

Chōzuya

There are no dippers at the Chōzuya so you cleanse you hands by catching water directly.

Chōzu-ishi

Haiden and Honden

When the original shrine was built here is unknown but the shrine has repeatedly been destroyed and rebuilt. The "honden", main shrine, that exists now was built in 1578 by high priest Munakata Ujisada, and the "haiden", worship hall, was built in 1590 by Kobayakawa Takakage, the feudal lord of Chikuzen Province. Both "honden" and "haiden" are designated Important Cultural Properties.

In most shrines "honden" is built to face south or east, but the "honden" in Hetsugū faces north-west. The approach to the shrine extends north-west and this is the direction the other 2 Munakata Taisha shrines, Okitsugū and Nakatsugū, are.

Haiden and Honden

The "honden" is "Ryo-nagare-zukuri", a style of gable roof. In a regular "Nagare-zukuri", the roof only extends to the front, but in "Ryo-nagare-zukuri", the roof extends also to the rear. It was repaired in 2013, and in an beautiful red and white color.

Haiden and Honden from the side
Honden from behind

The "haiden" is "Kirizuma-zukuri", a style of gable roof. Inside the "haiden", a replica of the pictures of the Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry dedicated by the third-generation head of Fukuoka domain, Kuroda Mitsuyuki.

Haiden from the front
The hengaku held on the haiden

On the far end of the "haiden" a hengaku with Amaterasu-ōmikami's oracle written is held.

The hengaku the oracle is written

Goshimboku

The "goshimboku", sacred tree, of Munakata Taisha is a 550 year old oak tree. The leaves of an oak are designed as a secondary crest.

The goshimboku

Aioi-no-kashi

On the way to Takamiya there is a Goshimboku called "Aioi-no-kashi". The two oak trees are connected with each other by a branch, and it is said that it gives good luck on fulfillment of love and happy marriage.

Aioi-no-kashi

Takamiya-saijō

"Takamiya-saijō" is located on the hilltop behind Hetsugū, about a 10 minute walk. "Takamiya-saijō" is where it is told that the three Munakata Goddesses descented, and it is one of the few places an ancient ceremonial place can be seen. Today, ritual ceremonies such as Takamiya-Kannabi-sai still take place here.

"Takamiya-saijō" is located in a place called "Shimo-takamiya remains" and was recreated during the repairs in Shōwa era, considering archaeological studies. Behind the "Takamiya-saijō" there is the "Kami-takamiya remains" but it is off limits.

The path to Takamiya
In front of Takamiya-saijō
Takamiya-saijō

At "Takamiya-saijō" there is a charm that can only be received here. On this charm, you write your name and age on half of it, and break it into two, hang one half and take home the other half.

Tei-ni-gū and Tei-san-gū

In the far end of Hetsugū, there is the "Tei-ni-gū", meaning second shrine, and "Tei-san-gū", meaning third shrine. Each of them enshrine the divided spirits of Tagorihime-no-kami, enshrined in Okitsugū in the island of Okinoshima, and Tagitsuhime-no-kami, enshrined in Nakatsugū in the island of Ōshima. By worshipping here it is able to worship all three Munakata Taisha shrines.

The words written on the water bowl and the stone monuments in front of both shrines were written by Sazō Idemitsu.

Tei-ni-gū and Tei-san-gū

The two shrines built in "Shinmei-zukuri" style were built with wood that were used in "Izanagi-no-miya" and "Izanami-no-miya" in the Ise Grand shrine until the 60th Sengū ceremony. In the repairs in 2017, the wood from the 62nd Sengū ceremony were used.

Tei-ni-gū
Tei-san-gū

Shimpō-kan

In the island of Okinoshima, where the Okitsugū is, many ancient artifacts, such as stone implements and earthenware has been found. More than 80 thousand artifacts found in Okinoshma are listed as National Treasures, and are stored in the "Shimpō-kan" in Hetsugū.

Admission fee is ¥800 for general public. Opening hours are from 9am to 4:30pm.

Shimpō-kan
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