Gunma Power Spot Haruna Shrine

Something special amid the ancient Japanese cedar trees

By Cathy Cawood    - 2 min read

As soon as I walked through the big torii gate at the entrance I knew Haruna Shrine was something special. A stone paved path stretched before me between soaring ancient cedar trees, with a small red bridge in the distance. Fragrant lilies nodded their heads beside the path. I passed small shrines, marker stones, and a red torii gate. Lush green moss covered rocks and roots, climbing stone walls and tree trunks. Statues of the Seven Gods of Good Fortune smiled at me.

Luxuriant moss covers this low stone wall
Luxuriant moss covers this low stone wall

And so far I'm only talking about the approach to the shrine. The main shrine buildings were 20 minutes walk from the gate. Richly carved with birds and flowers and especially dragons, the style of the buildings is similar to those at Nikko's Toshogu Shrine, but here the paint is faded and weathered. Also, tourists don't seem to have found this place, or perhaps it is more difficult to get to. So there was no standing in line for the best photo angles here.

A tall thin waterfall echoes the shape of the tree trunks
A tall thin waterfall echoes the shape of the tree trunks

Haruna Shrine dates back to 586 AD, and the oldest cedar here is thought to be 1200 years old. The shrine is considered a power spot, and it felt mysterious and spiritually powerful to me, although I'm no expert in such matters. I think visiting a place like Haruna Shrine feeds your soul in a way that will remain with you even once you are back amid the traffic and concrete of the city.

A narrow side path leading to a red torii
A narrow side path leading to a red torii

Getting there

If you are driving, the shrine is about 50 minutes by car from Takasaki IC of Kan-Etsu Expressway, and there is free parking nearby. If you are traveling by train you should take the Shinkansen to Takasaki Station (about 50 minutes) . From there a bus leaves for Lake Haruna (Haruna-ko) about once an hour. The bus trip takes about 50 minutes and you should get off at the stop named Haruna Jinja.

More info

Find out more about Haruna Shrine.

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Cathy Cawood

Cathy Cawood @cathy.cawood

 I came to Japan in 2003 to teach English. I lived in Shiga prefecture for 1 year, and it still holds a special place in my heart. I lived in Kyoto for 9 years, then moved to Machida, Tokyo in 2014 after meeting my Japanese partner. I love to take photos, and my Japan in Pictures Facebook page has some 40,000 followers. I have been the Regional Partner for Yamanashi Prefecture since 2014.I am enjoying exploring the prefectures around Tokyo (I like to get off the beaten track), and I hope the photos and stories I share will encourage more people to discover this wonderful country.

Join the discussion

Elizabeth S a year ago
Your photos capture that vivid green moss. Maybe when people say “power spot” it’s because they sense the vitality of a place, with vegetation, water and stones. It’s awe.
Cathy Cawood Author a year ago
Whether it's awe of nature on the inside or magic on the outside, it's really wonderful!
Sleiman Azizi a year ago
Wow... Pine and cedar trees just do it for me.
Cathy Cawood Author a year ago
I think all kinds of trees do it for me! Hmmm... maybe I'm a tree hugger?
Kim B a year ago
You had me at "no standing in line for the best photo angles". Bliss!
Cathy Cawood Author a year ago
Definitely bliss!
Elena Lisina a year ago
Wonderful shots! Cathy, I always admire your photos! And I love such places in Japan - they are awesome on any weather. Thanks for sharing! :)
Sleiman Azizi a year ago
Elena, I was thinking the same thing. Some nice shots there...