Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Shrines of Day 67


For many pilgrims, I believe the main priority is to get from temple to temple. The temples are the focus. For me, however, the temples were just reference points on an exploratory walk. The sites between the temples were just as important, and I tried to stop in at every single shrine I passed, both to learn any interesting local history and myths, and to find unique and interesting art.

On Day 67 of my walk around the Shingon Kyushu pilgrimage, I started the day in Sasebo, Nagasaki, visiting a pilgrimage temple then headed north out of town to the Ainoura River valley. These first four photos are from Nakazato Hachiman Shrine, a fairly standard village shrine to Hachiman, by one count the most common shrine in Japan.

With its Hizen-style torii, and modern komainu, there were no surprises here. Like most village shrines numerous smaller shrines had been brought here from neighboring areas in the early part of the 20th century.

I visited nearby temple number 74, Tozenji before heading on up the valley. In Tabarucho I stopped in at Norito Shrine. A little further I saw the unusual shimenawa of Yodohime Shrine.

The next four photos are from my next stop, an unnamed Inari Shrine.

If you include small, roadside shrines without buildings, then Inari, rather than Hachiman, becomes the most common shrine in Japan.

The vast majority of Inari shrines only date back to the Edo period when Inari became so popular.

Continuing to climb my next stop was Kamiari Shrine.

There is absolutely no info on this shrine which was obviously more substantial in earlier times, but now is just a small, stone honden.

It enshrines Amaterasu.

Not far from Kamiari Shrine I spent quite a bit of time exploring Saikoji Temple, number 73 on the pilgrimage with a notable Giant Fudo statue. I had now climbed to more than 300 meters above sea level and while heading to a mountain tunnel that would take me over to the next valley I could see an Oyamazumi Shrine in tye distance set in a tell-tale grove of trees.

Dropping down into and then slowly descending the Sasa River Valley my first stop was another Oyamazumi Shrine, this one with a unique old-growth ecosystem. This was once a coal mining area and after a brief stop at the local coal mine museum I visited the last pilgrimage temple of the day, Saifukuji Temle with its cave shrine.

I carried on down the valley and just before reaching Yoshii Station and the train back into Sasebo I stopped in at a very small shrine. I have no idea of the shrines name as I couldnt read the eroded kanji on the torii, and can not find it on the map, but it did have a nice pair of komainu.

If you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy the post on shrines of day 66.


  1. a wonderful walk, thanks so much.
    (BTW, there were no commercials between the pictures to disrupt the story . . . wonderful !()

  2. Another "I wish..." place. Thanks. Lily