The Tanzan Shrine in Nara is located among the soaring mountains of Tonomine, in the eastern part of the Asuka region, and during the Asuka Period, it was a place of political reform, where Fujiwara no Kamatari was reprimanded for political collusion. Because secret talks about national reform were held by the future Emperor Tenji in this area, the mountain is known as the "Katarai Mountain", which means "Chat Mountain", and the shrine got its name from this combination of Chinese characters. The area is famous for the cherry blossoms in the spring and autumn leaves, and is known as the "Nikko of the Kansai Area".

About Tanzan Shrine

Fujiwara no Kamatari's ashes were moved from the Setsu State (modern-day northern Osaka and southern Hyogo area) to this area and enshrined in a 13-story pagoda by his eldest son, the monk Jo'e. It is said that Jo'e's younger brother, Fujiwara Fuhito, built the shrine, and placed a statue of his father inside.

Originally, it was connected to a temple called Myoraku-ji Temple, but after the Shinto-Buddhist Separation Ordinance of the Meiji Period, which made a clear separation between Shinto and Buddhism, God and Buddha, only the shrine remained. In the mountains of Tonomine stand the 2-story gate, Honden Main Shrine, and other beautiful vermillion buildings. The autumn leaves are famous, but we also recommend seeing the snowy scenery in the winter.

The highlights of Tanzan Shrine

The main highlight of Tanzan Shrine is the Honden Main Shrine, where Fujiwara no Kamatari is enshrined. It was built in 701, and the current building was rebuilt in 1850. Built-in one of Japan's historical shrine architectural styles, "Sangen Shasumiki Kasuga-zukuri", the shrine is covered in brilliantly colored patterns and carvings, and inside is a statue of Kamatari. It's said to be the model for the buildings at Tosho-gu Temple in Nikko and is an important cultural property.

The 17 meters tall 13-story wooden pagoda is also a must-see. It is a symbol of Tanzan Shrine and is the only wooden 13-story pagoda in the world. It is also designated as an important cultural property, along with the Honden Main Shrine. It was built in 678 by Fujiwara no Kamatari's sons, the monk Jo'e and his younger brother Fuhito, to pray for the soul of their father. It is said that it was built to imitate the pagoda at the Houchi-in Temple at Mt. Seiryo in Shanxi Province, China. The current pagoda was reconstructed in 1532.

Tanzan Shrine is a Place for Love

Enshrined at the Sessha Higashi-den (Koi-jinja or "Love Shrine") is the Goddess and Queen of Mirrors, Kagami-no-Okami. The shrine is known as being a matchmaking shrine, and there are several spots for wishing to make relationship connections at the shrine. The first one is the path through the gate below the Haiden Worship Hall, and towards the Higashi-den (Koi-jinja), which is known as the "Koi no Michi", or Road of Love. Another is the "Musubi no Iwakura", which is said to have a god living in it, so try rubbing the rock and make a wish for a relationship. There are Kagami-no-Okami love wish tablets available for 400 yen, so write your heartfelt wishes on the tablet and give it as an offering and see what happens!

Access to Tanzan Shrine

If you are coming from Kyoto, change trains at the Kintetsu Kyoto Line Yamato-Yagi Station and get off at the Kintetsu Osaka Line or JR Sakurai Station. You can take a taxi, but if you take the bus, take the Nara Kotsu Sakurai Station Bus from the "Sakurai Station South Exit" bus stop. Ride for about 25 minutes, then get off at the last stop, "Tanzan-jinja", then walk 3-5 minutes. The bus from Sakurai Station comes about once an hour (sometimes twice, depending on the time), but in the popular autumn tourist season, they increase the number of busses. 

Spot Information

  • Spot name: Tanzan Shrine
  • Address:〒633-0032 奈良県桜井市多武峰319, Tonomine, Sakurai-shi, Nara Prefecture 633-0032
  • Access: Get off at the "Tanzan-jinja" bus stop and walk 3-5 minutes
  • Wi-Fi: Wi-Fi is available at the Haiden Worship Hall
  • Ticket:600円 600 yen
  • Business Hours: 8:30 - 17:00 (last entry at 16:30)
  • Holidays: Open year-round