The vivid vermillion main shrine building stands as the symbol of this head shrine of the Kumano shrines in Japan, which are famous for being good for luck in relationships. The main deities of the shrine are the married couple, Kumano Hayatama no Okami (Izanagi no Mikoto) and Kumano Fusumi no Okami (Izanami no Mikoto). There are lots of things related to relationship ties here, such as the sacred tree that is said to cement ties in relationships, and amulets that help you connect with your important people!
What is Kumano Hayatama Taisha?
Kumano Hayatama Taisha is located at the foot of Chihogamine, with the Kumano River in the background. Kumano Hayatama Taisha is famous as one of the "Kumano Sanzan", which is the collective name for this shrine and the two other Kumano Taisha shrines: Kumano Nachi Taisha, and Kumano Hongu Taisha. According to Japanese mythology, the gods of Kumano first descended to earth on Mt. Kamikura, but after that they moved to this place and that was the beginning of the shrine.
Mt. Gongen (Mt. Kamikura), the island of Mifune-jima, which is an island resting place for the journey of the gods in the Kumano River behind the shrine, and the shrine precincts themselves are designated as World Heritage Sites.
Highlights of Kumano Hayatama Taisha
1. The Worship Hall and Shrine Gate
There are two main halls of worship, the 1st Hall (Musubi no miya ) and the 2nd Hall (Hayatamagu), where the main deities, husband-and-wife Kumano Hayatama no Okami and Fusumi no Okami are enshrined. It is said that Kumano Hayatama no Okami is represented by "Yakushi Nyorai", and Kumano Fusumi Okami by the "Senju Kannon". The Shrine gate at the end of the Omotesando path is also a must-see, with a thick rope that hangs above the entry, standing as a gateway between the sacred and the outside world.
2. Nagi-no-ki, the Sacred Tree that is a National Natural Monument
The Nagi-no-ki is a sacred tree that was hand-planted by Shigemori, the son of Taira no Kiyomori, a warlord at the end of the Heian period. The tree is over 1,000 years old and has been designated as a national natural monument. The name of the tree sounds the same as the word for when the wind stops and the waves disappear, leaving a calm sea, so the tree is thought to have power over good relationship matches and maritime safety.
The veins on the leaves run only vertically, which make them rather strong, so they are thought to bring good fortune for relationships, and the leaves have long been a popular amulet of sorts to take home with you.
3. The Shinpoukan, Which Holds Over 1,000 Ancient Treasures!
There are about 1,200 ancient treasures in the shrine's treasure hall, centered around items said to have been donated by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu during the Muromachi period, and many are designated as national treasures. These treasures include a group of wooden religious statues called the "Shinzo Nanaku", a large painted wooden fan made from thin sheets of cypress, decorated with pictures of nature, and gold and silver leaf called the "Saie Hiougi”, and a container for storing cosmetics, called the “Kiri-Karakusa Makie Te-bako”.
Kumano Hayatama Taisha's Amulets
There is an amulet called the "Kizuna Omamori", for 1,000 yen, that you open and write your feelings in before presenting it to your loved one, that is said to make your ties to that person stronger because the sacred Nagi tree at the shrine has leaves that are very strong and hard to cut. There is also the "Nagi Ningyo" for 1,500 yen, which is an amulet including a set of original tiny stick dolls that are made from the seeds of the sacred Nagi tree that are said to be good for good relationships and happy home life, and are only available at Kumano Hayatama Taisha. There are also the "Nagi-mamori" for 600 yen, "Necklace style Omamori" for 3,000 yen, and a "Necktie Pin style Omamori" for 3,000 yen, all of which use the image of leaves of the sacred Nagi tree.
- Year Built in: 128
- Main Deity: 1st Hall enshrines Kumano Fusumi no Okami, 2nd Hall enshrines Kumano Hayatama no Okami
- Festivals: Kumano Hayatama Festival (National Designated Intangible Folk Cultural Property) on October 15-16, Ogitate Fan Festival on July 14, New Year's Eve Ceremony / New Year's Eve Festival / Shinpu Senrei Festival (blessing of the new amulets) on December 31
- Spot name: Kumano Hayatama Taisha (熊野速玉大社)
- Street Address: 1 Shingu, Shingu-shi, Wakayama 647-0081
- Access: About 15 minutes on foot from JR Kisei Line Shingu Station
- Language: English pamphlet available
- Ticket: 500 yen for Shinpoukan Treasure Hall
- Holidays: Open year-round
- Opening Hours: Shinpoukan Treasure Hall open from 9:00 ~ 16:00