Shinto is the religion indigenous to Japan and its rituals play a big part in everyday life. Unlike the majority of religions the Shinto religion has no official scripture. Japanese people who practice Shinto often don’t refer to it as a religion, but as an aspect of Japanese life with rituals. Unlike religions like Christianity or Islam, it has not one, but countless gods, or “kami” as they are called in Japanese. Shinto shrines generally demonstrate a harmony and closeness to nature as this is one of the pillar’s of the religion. Shrines are often found in areas with old trees reaching up to the skies. This gives the visitor a feeling that there is something ancient lurking there that can’t truly be explained.
One of the most significant spiritual power spots within the Shinto movement is the Togakushi Shrine. A visit to Togakushi is highly recommended to those who would like to see one of Japan’s most mysterious places. The Togakushi Shrine comprises of three shrines named Hoko-sha, Chu-sha and Okusha.
The most interesting shrine is Okusha due to the towering Japanese cedars leading the way to the shrine. The path of cedars is such an awe-inspiring sight that for many people it the main reason to come to this shrine.
At the end of the cedar path you will find Okusha, hidden away in the legendary mountain area that is said to be made out of a door. The door was flung all the way from the middle of Kyushu in southern Japan. The myth goes that Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun, hid in a cave to repent for her brother’s evil doings. The world was said to have gone completely dark and people began to despair that the light would never return. Other kami thought of a scheme to lure the sun goddess back outside by holding a festival. Amaterasu heard the joyous sounds of the festivities and opened the door of the cave to take a peek. One god saw this happening and ripped the door of the seams to throw it all the way to Nagano Prefecture where it formed the Togakushi mountains. This is how Togakushi got its name, “to” means door and “gakushi” comes from “kakusu” which means to hide away, the door behind which Amaterasu was hiding. The kami that is enshrined in Okusha is the one who threw the stone door.
If you would like to experience this and more in Togakushi, then please join us on our Togakushi Nature Hike and Ninja Tour!