For those who know a bit about Japanese folktales, you most likely have come across the story of Momotarō (桃太郎, “Peach Boy”). And if you haven’t, familiarise yourself with Momotarō’s heroic life before you come to Okayama, especially if you are paying a visit to Kibitsu Shrine (吉備津神社)!
It is said that the folktale, Momotarō, is modeled based on the myth of the Shrine. Many of the rituals and some parts of the Shrine also have a deep connection with the myth! Please refer to the Shrine’s map HERE for the spots we introduce below. Clicking the dot on each building to reveal more details about the spot.
Narukama-Shinji Ritual (鳴釜神事)
This mythic Narukama-Shinji Ritual (鳴釜神事) has been conducted from ancient times to this day in the Okamaden Hall.
From the shrine’s myth, the head of the demon enshrined here was buried underneath the cooking stove. When a ritual is performed with the stove, the demon will answer your question with the sound coming out of the pot.
- If the pot produced a rich and joyful sound, it means something good should happen.
- On the other hand, if an awful sound is coming out of the pot, you better be careful with what you have asked the god for direction.
Tip: If you would like to participate in this ritual, please apply to the Shrine’s office between 9 am and 2 pm. Note the ritual is not held on Fridays.
Yadate-no-Shinji Ritual (矢立の神事)
Yadate-no-Shinji Ritual is another ritual related to the myth. Performed on the 3rd of January each year, the ritual came from the part of the myth that the now enshrined main god of Kibitsu Shrine – Kibitsuhiko-no-Mikoto (吉備津彦命), defeated the demon with his archery skills.
The ritual involves several priests firing arrows in different directions. It has the meaning of preventing demons.
For more information, refer to the official website HERE.
The Kibitsu-Zukuri-Style Main Hall was rebuilt in 1405 and took 25 years to complete. Because of the paired roofs, it makes people associate this paired image with a great relationship. Therefore, many worshippers come to the Shrine praying for a harmonious relationship.
For those who are into architecture, this Main Hall is where you will want to explore it in detail.
The only building in the world constructed with the Kibitsu-Zukuri-Style is here, which made the building a designated Japan’s National Treasures!
The 400-Meter Long Corridor
The Main Hall and the Narikama Hall (鳴釜殿), where the Narikamashinji Ritual is performed, are connected by a corridor that is almost 400 meters long. This gorgeous corridor, which was rebuilt in 1579, not only protects you from the rain but is also one of the best photo spots in the shrine!
Especially from late March to early April, the sides of the corridor will be decorated with white and pink cherry blossoms (*´ω｀).
Hydrangea Garden and the Great Ginkgo Tree
Somewhere in the middle of the 400-meter-long corridors is this Hydrangea Garden with about 1,500 Hydrangeas planted.
From mid-June for a month, if you drop by Kibitsu Shrine, you get to admire the hydrangea flowers of various colors!
Also, at the far end of the corridor, there is a peony garden where the flowers blossom from late April to early May (*´ω｀).
Although not flowers, there is a giant ginkgo tree close to the Main Hall. Apparently, the tree is around 600 years old! From early November, the tree’s foliage will start turning yellow, which is another good time to visit the shrine for stunning photos!
For those who worry about their shoes being stinky because of the stinky ginkgo nuts, this won’t be a problem at Kibitsu Shrine because the tree doesn’t produce nuts anymore (´▽｀*).
Other Facilities at Kibitsu Shrine
There are coin-operated lockers in the rest area opposite the shrine’s car park.
Opening Hours and Access Information of Kibitsu Shrine
- The Shrine is open from 5 am to 6 pm.
- The office of the Shrine is open from 9 am to 2:30 pm.
- From JR Kibitsu Station (吉備津駅), it is around a 10-minute walk to the Shrine.
- From JR Okayama Station (岡山駅), it is a 20-minute train ride to JR Kibitsu Station.
- From JR Kurashiki Station (倉敷駅 ), it is a 40-minute train ride to JR Kibitsu Station.
- From JR Shin-Osaka Station (新大阪駅), it is around a 60-minute train ride to JR Okayama Station.
- From JR Shin-Osaka Station (博多駅), it is around a 2-hour train ride to JR Okayama Station.