Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Motoise Kono Jinja: The Iconic Shrine in Amanohashidate

If you are trekking or cycling your way to the north of Amanohashidate, you will go past the Motoise Kono Shrine (元伊勢籠神社) on your way to Amanohashidate Kasamatsu Park. The shrine is the highest-ranked shrine in the San-in region and was the home of the god in the famous Ise Jingū (伊勢神宮) in Mie Prefecture. This is why the shrine is called “Motoise”. It is said that Amanohashidate was originally the approach to the Kono Shrine, and the region’s name, Miyazu (宮津), means the port where the large shrine is located (the Motoise Kono Shrine in this case).

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How to Visit Motoise Kono Shrine

Depending on which attraction you visit before the Motoise Kono Jinja, you may either enter the shrine by going through the main torii gate in the Instagram Post or from the back of the shrine, where a couple of auxiliary shrines are located.

In front of the torii gate is a polished granite with the words “下乗” engraved. It means “getting off your vehicle”. Whether it is a horse, a palanquin, or a car, you must walk past the torii gate into the god’s territory. Otherwise, you are not respecting the gods enshrined there.

Also, remember to wash your hands and rinse your mouth at the purification fountain in front of the worship hall (the 3rd photo in the IG post).

Like other highly ranked shrines, Motoise Kono Shrine’s main worship hall has an inner and outer area. Unfortunately, we commoners can only worship the gods from the outer area. But that should be enough, right? What is important is our sincerity.

If you are curious about what the inner area looks like, you can peek into the inner quarter from the sides of the outer area. It is where the priests perform rituals in front of the gods.

© 海の京都DMO

Suetama (座玉)

Motoise-Kono-Shrine-Suetama-Amanohashidate-Miyazu-Kyoto

A special feature at the railing of the inner quarter is the large colorful beads atop each pillar. They come in five different colors.

Known as “Suetama”, the beads symbolize the high rank of the shrine, and the only other place that you can find this type of decoration is at Ise Jingū (伊勢神宮).

The Komainu (狛犬) at Motoise Kono Shrine

The shrine with a long history also has quite a few National Important Cultural Properties.

For example, the two Komainu (狛犬) or guardian dogs statues in front of the worship hall were made in the Kamakura period (1192 – 1133). This is why they have a roof protecting these important statues from severe weather conditions, such as heavy snow in winter.

Even with the protection, the dog’s face is weathered, so you won’t be able to see its facial features properly.

The lion dog statue that we love the most however, is located at the back of the shrine where the auxiliary shrines are located. Take a look at the second photo in the Instagram post. Isn’t that lion dog extremely adorable?

Manai Shrine (眞名井神社)

Manai Shrine is the rear shrine of Motoise Kono Shrine. To get there, follow the approach from the torii gate close to Motoise Kono Shrine’s auxiliary shrines. It is around a 4-minute walk to Manai Shrine’s torii gate.

At the back of the worship hall, you will find two giant stones called Iwakura (磐座). They are the true appearance of the shrine god (or should we say the object of worship).

In ancient times, when no shrine was built to worship gods, people thought that gods would come down from heaven and reside in natural things, such as large trees and rocks and connect the world of gods with the world of people.

© Tango Kairiku Kotsu

Manai Shrine is also where you want to go with an empty water bottle as people around the country would travel to Amanohashidate for its sacred water!

© Tango Kairiku Kotsu

There is water is coming out of another giant rock in front of the Manai Shrine’s torii gate. The name of the shrine actually came from this water fountain. The sacred water is said to be brought down from heaven in a golden bowl by the god, and “Manai” is the honorific title given to the spring.

Also, another rare thing on the two sides of the shrine’s torii gate is the guardian animal. Instead of the usual dogs/lions, Manai Shrine has got two dragons!

Sabō Kamunagara (茶房 かむながら)

The shrine’s tea house is located inside the traditional Japanese building between Motoise Kono Shrine’s two torii gates. It is a great place to enjoy traditional sweets and a hot cup of freshly made matcha green tea with premium-grade matcha powder!

Motoise Kono Shrine’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • Motoise Kono Shrine is open from:
    • 7:30 am to 5 pm from March to November
    • 7:30 am to 4:30 pm from December to February
    • The shrine’s office is open from 8:30 am.
    • The opening hours will differ from 31st of December to 3rd of January.
  • If you are taking a bus from Amanohashidate Station, get off at Amanohashidate Kono Jinja Shrine (天橋立元伊勢籠神社)
    • The bus trip takes around 25 minutes.
    • Refer to HERE for the timetable.
  • If you are taking the sightseeing boat, Motoise Kono Shrine is just a 1-minute walk from Ichinomiya Ferry Terminal.
    • Refer to HERE for the timetable.
    • From the ferry terminal, it is around a 3-minute walk.

Tip: If you like birds and are visiting Amanohashidate from late November to mid-March, there might be Tundra swans around the Ichinomiya Ferry Terminal. So keep an eye out for them!

Discover Other Attractions in Amanohashidate

Amanohashidate-View-Land-Cherry-Blossom-Miyazu-Kyoto
Click the photo to find out about other attractions in Amanohashidate!

Obviously Motoise Kono Shrine isn’t the only attraction in the celebrated destination in Kyoto!

Check out our article on Amanohashidate to find out what else you can do there and how the 5,000 pine trees can grow on the 3.6 km sandbar surrounded by seawater!

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