Motonosumi Inari Jinja (元乃隅稲成神社) is a Shinto shrine in Nagato City (長門市), located in the north-western part of Yamaguchi Prefecture. It attracts a lot of tourists because of its scenic beauty. The successive vermilion gates called torii (鳥居) that lead to the cape create an amazing view. It was selected as one of the 31 most beautiful spots in Japan by CNN in 2015.
History of Motonosumi Shrine
Opposite of what you may think, this shrine was not constructed a long time ago. It was founded in 1955 by a private person named Hitoshi Okamura. He was just a local fisherman. One day, a white fox appeared at his bedside and said to him, “Who has made it possible for you to make a living with fishing so far? Please enshrine me here.”
So the fisherman decided to make the shrine. You can see fox statues in the precinct, which gives away the fact that this is an inari srhine. Between 1987 and 1997, 123 gates have been donated by the worshipers. The gate is a border between the normal world and the sacred world. You will be purified by walking through the gates.
By the way, Shinto is Japan’s indigenous religion that started a long time ago. It is based on nature worship. The sun, ocean, mountains, lakes, old trees, big rocks… all these natural elements around us are regarded as gods. Historically important persons such as Emperors and shoguns (military leaders) are also regarded as gods. We sometimes say that ‘there are eight million gods’. There are more than eighty thousand Shinto shrines in Japan.
Japanese people are not so religious, so we don’t visit Shinto shrines frequently. At the important time of the year and milestones in life, however, we still visit them. With important time we mean the new year’s day wishes for the blessing of the year. Milestones of life are, for example, when a baby is born, when children become three, five and seven years old, and weddings. A traditional wedding ceremony is held at the Shinto shrine, but nowadays, most weddings are held at Christian churches.
Blessings of Motonosumi Inari Shrine
Each shrine offers its special blessings. In the case of Motonosumi Shrine, they offer success for businesses, bountiful fishing, and safety for fishermen. Founder Okamura was a fisherman, so the success of his fishing business was important to him. You can also ask for a good love match, having a healthy baby, good luck, traffic safety, and success in studies.
There is one big torii gate in the precinct. An offertory box is placed on top of the gate. If you throw money and it enters the box, they say your wish will come true. There are many shrines called Inari (稲荷), which means ‘bountiful harvest of rice’. But the kanji for this Inari shrine are written as (稲成). 成 means ‘coming true’. So, you can pray for your wish to come true.
Ryugu no Shiofuki (竜宮の潮吹き)
If you go to the end of the line of torii gates, there is a cliff called Ryugu, or ‘palace of the dragon’. There is a cave underneath and when a big wave hits it, the water goes up making it look like a dragon blowing steam. The water sometimes goes up to 30 meters high on a windy day with high waves.
Nearby Sightseeing Spots
Omijima: this is an island that’s connected to the mainland with a bridge. You can see the beautiful intricate coastline from several observation spots or from a sightseeing boat. There are many rocks in the ocean which creates amazing views. It takes 30 minutes by car
Hagi: Hagi is a beautiful town where you can enjoy walking in the well-preserved old center. An important feudal lord governed the city during the Edo period (1603 – 1867) and you can visit places where you can still feel the history such as the ruin of the castle and the family temple of the lord. It takes about one hour by car or by train (from Nagato-Furuichi station to Hagi station).
Akiyoshido Cave: Akiyoshido Cave is one of the largest caves in Japan. You can see amazing sculptures of rock made by nature, taking uncountable years. There is a limestone plateau spreading around the cave. It takes about one hour by car.
Your Japan Tour
As seasoned Japan experts, we can help you create your perfect Japan tour including guides who can tell you all about Shinto religion. The guides can, of course, also take you to the Motonosumi Shrine. Contact us to start planning your unforgettable holiday to this fascinating country. Japan is full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, culture, history, nature, and delicious food!
Motonosumi Inari Shrine Information
Access: If you go to Motonosumi Inari Shrine from Shinyamaguchi (Shinkansen station), take the Mine Line to Nagato, then change to the Sanin Line and get off at Nagato-Furuichi station. You need to take a taxi from the station to the shrine, which takes about 20 minutes.