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Kumano Hongu Shrine & Giant Torii

World Heritage Site: Kumano Kodo 3

Kumano Kodo is a network of ancient roads and paths stretching across the mountains of Kumano. The entire Kumano region is a designated World Heritage site. For more than 1000 years, pilgrims made the pilgrimage to Kumano from all over Japan, including people from all levels of society, all ages, and regardless of sex. They believed that they would die by entering the Kumano area, purify their souls, and then re-enter this world.

One of the three great shrines of Kumano, Hongu Shrine has the ability to save your life in the future. People believed that if you visited all three great shrines in Kumano on foot, your soul would be secured forever.

Hongu Shrine used to be situated on a sandbar of the Kumano River running through the deep forests of the Kumano region. People who visited here cleaned their body in the river, and then prayed. In 1889, a heavy rain drenched the area and damaged most of the shrine buildings. The remaining buildings were moved and rebuilt a bit northwest of the sandbar. Now only a huge torii gate stands here on the grounds to remind us of where the original shrine was located.

The day I visited, this incredible torii gate suddenly appeared in the middle of a rice paddy. The long stone covered approach headed straight toward the gate. I looked at this huge torii for a while, without moving forward. It seemed quite natural that Japanese gods have always had a deep connection with rice cultivation. In the evening I came back here and looked at the torii stretched out across the dark sky. The next morning, I went back to the rice paddy again, and I looked at the torii again. Standing in the morning haze, it was solemn, majestic, and beautiful. And I felt like almost prostrating myself there.

More info

Find out more about Kumano Hongu Taisha.

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Jocelyn Yu 8 years ago
I like your choice of music for this video. The singing bowl sounds perfectly match with the environment & the quiet holy shrine.
The shots & angles of the video itself are very nice and beautiful too :)) Thanks!

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