Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Keta Grand Shrine – The Biggest Shrine in Central Japan

Keta Grand Shrine (Keta Taisha, 氣多大社), close to Chirihama Beach, is the representative shrine of the Noto Peninsula. According to Japan’s ancient documentation, the shrine was already the biggest in the central part of Japan’s main island back in 741. Originally, the shrine god was worshiped as the region’s guardian. But more recently, it is a well-known shrine for granting good relationships to pilgrims and a few interesting rituals you can apply to participate in!

Five buildings of the shrine, including the gate in the photo and the main worship hall, were built between the 16th and 18th centuries.

They are all currently designated as Japan’s National Important Cultural Properties.


Keta Grand Shrine’s Forbidden Forest

© Keta Grand Shrine

Another thing about Keta Taisha Shrine is the forbidden forest that surrounds the shrine. Of course, not due to the same reason as the forbidden forest in Harry Potter, but because the forest of over 25,000 square meters is treated as an object of worship believed to contain the spirit of a deity of Keta Grand Shrine.

Since ancient times, only the shrine’s priests have been allowed to be in the forest. Ordinary people like you and me aren’t allowed to enter the forest except during certain festivals.

Even the Japanese Emperor of the Meiji period only got to explore a small part of it when he visited the shrine!

Ritual of Good Marriage Prayer (縁結び祈願) and Your Chance of Entering the Forbidden Forest

As the god of the Keta Grand Shrine is treated as the deity of marriage, the shrine will perform a FREE ritual for pilgrims who come to the shrine hoping for a good relationship.

On the first of each month, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, it accepts the application of the ritual performance. If you are one of the first 100 people who applied for the ritual before 8:30 am, you will be allowed to participate in this ritual in the main worship hall.

© Keta Grand Shrine

The entire ritual takes around 30 minutes, including a dance performed by the shrine maiden and participants offering a pre-prepared sacred tree branch. After the ritual, the shrine maiden will guide you to the Forbidden Forest or Hairazu-no-Mori (入らずの森) in Japanese.

If you don’t understand Japanese, just try to feel the sacred atmosphere in the forest. And, when other ritual participants start to pick up small stones from the ground and put them on top of a big stone, follow them. By doing so, you will have a happy relationship (^_-)-☆.

Tip: Being a participant in the ritual means you will be able to enter a National Cultural Property and the Forbidden Forest. It is quite a popular event for the locals and people across the country. Especially if the first of the month falls on a weekend or public holiday, a long queue is expected before 8:30 am. So be there early!

To apply for the ritual, please head to Shiawase-musubi Tokoro (幸せむすび所). It is the building at your left once you pass the gate built in 1584, according to the shrine’s documentation.

☛ Please note the ritual won’t be held on the first of January
☛ If there have been too many applications received, the shrine’s office will close early at 4 pm

Purification Ceremony Experience – Misogi Taiken (禊ぎ体験)

Important: This ceremony is currently suspended.

© Keta Grand Shrine

On the 13th and the 14th of August, on top of the Ritual of Good Marriage Prayer, you can also participate in the purification ceremony. You will be dressing in the shrine maiden’s costume and heading into the Forbidden Forest to be purified by the mountain spring in the forest. Rest assured that you won’t get wet as the water is really shallow (refer to the photo).

Be prepared to read out a few sentences in Japanese, though. If you are unsure of the pronunciation, check with the staff in advance and memorize it!

For an hour from 6:30 pm, the ground in front of the shrine’s worship halls will be covered by lit candles with projections on the hall. So remember to head back to the shrine at the end of the day (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Other Rituals and Festivals at Keta Grand Shrine

Apart from rituals that relate to relationships, other festivals are also popular amongst the locals.

  • Oide Matsuri/Kunimuke Matsuri (おいで祭り/平国祭) – Held from the 18th to the 23rd of March: A ritual held in honor of the national land settlement.
    • Portable shrines are paraded through the city of Hakui (羽咋) for the locals to receive the blessing from the god.
© Keta Grand Shrine
© Keta Grand Shrine
  • Serpent’s Eye Shinto ritual (蛇の目神事) – Held on the 3rd and the 4th of April: the second part of the Oide Matsuri, where the priest performs archery.
  • Ōharaeshiki (大祓式) – Held on the 30th of June: the aim is to pray for a peaceful second half year without illness for those who participated in the ritual.
  • Cormorant Matsuri (鵜祭) – Held on the 16th of December: how the cormorant flies used to be used to determine what kind of year the coming year is going to be.

How to Get to Keta Grand Shrine

From JR Hakui Station (羽咋駅), take Hokutetsu Noto Bus (北鉄能登バス) bound for Togi (富来) and get off at Ichinomiya (一の宮). The shrine is just a 5-minute walk away.

You can also take the same bus service from JR Kanazawa Station’s (金沢駅) west exit bus stop no. 7.

Refer to this bus’s timetable HERE. As it only comes in Japanese, please use the Japanese name of the bus stops to read.

  • Page 10 is the timetable for services departing from JR Hakui and Kanazawa Station. The timetable for returning the trip is on page 11.
  • The first table is for weekdays, and the second table is for weekends and public holidays.

Discover Other Awesome Attractions in Noto Penisula

Click the photo for more information about this amazing spot!

Looking forward to visiting Chirihama Beach Driveway during your next Japan trip? The beach is only one of the many fascinating attractions on the Noto Penisula.

To find out more attractions you may be interested in, refer to our article on Noto Penisula!

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