Totto Shrine is located in Higashiagatsumamachi, in the Gunma Prefecture. Gunma is in the middle of the main Japanese island, and is probably most famous for Kusatsu Onsen and Nikko.
Totto Shrine is more than 100 years old, and is a typical Shinto shrine such as you can find in villages all over Japan. Shinto is the oldest religion in Japan and 'Shinto' literally means ‘The Way of the Gods”. Along with Buddhism, it is the major Japanese religion. Even though Totto Shrine is so old, the wooden building still hosts festivals and traditional ceremonies. For example, 'Shichi-go-san' is a ceremony that takes place when boys and girls are 7, 5 and 3 years old. During the ceremony, children wear traditional kimonos. The shrine also hosts Matsuri (the Japanese word for ‘festival’) with traditional Japanese music and dance. Festivals are held several times throughout the year. The most recent festival took place at the beginning of the farming season, at the end of April, in order to thank the Gods for a good season. There are many people present during festival ceremonies, especially children, because some candies and rice cakes are thrown into the crowd.
Higashiagatsumamachi is two and a half hours by train from Tokyo, or 3 hours by bus. You can visit the temple by stopping at Yagura Station (Agatsuma line from Takasaki) and then walking less than 15 minutes. It is a nice walk from the train station to the shrine as you cross a bridge with a great view of mountains and the Agatsuma River. There is another Totto Shrine (sharing the same name) situated a few meters left of the Yagura station. The shrine itself might not be open to the public, but you can still admire the architecture or the park.
Take Agatsuma line from Takasaki, and get off at Yagura station.
JR Bus from Shinjuku Station to Kusatsu.
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