Believed to be Japan’s oldest existing Shinto shrine, Ohmiwa Jinja Shrine is a rare example of the ancient form of a Shinto sacred site. The shrine building is a worship hall, but there is unusually no main shrine where the deity would normally be enshrined. This is because the whole mountain behind the shrine is considered to enshrine the deity Omononushi-no-Kami, the kami (deity) of farming, business and medicine.
The shrine is also sacred for sake brewers, and when you see the sugidama (cedar ball) hanging from the doorway of a sake brewery in Japan, those cedar branches come from the huge trees flanking the sacred mountain. Set in an ancient cedar forest, the whole shrine complex has a mystical atmosphere. You can walk up the mountain, which is well-worth the hike.
There is a legend that a white snake, a companion of Benzaiten (the god of music, entertainment and water), lives around the shrine, and you will see snake symbols, along with offerings of sake and eggs for the snake god. Ohmiwa Jinja Shrine features in Yukio Mishima’s novel "Runaway Horses”.
Behind the main buildings is Saijinja Shrine, a smaller medicine shrine with a natural spring, whose waters are said to have healing properties. You can fill up your own bottle, or drink from the provided cups. There are some steps, but most of the buildings are wheelchair accessible. Parking is also available.
A short walk from the shrine, there are several old breweries, including Imanishi Sake Brewery, where you can sample regional sake. The other must-try is the local specialty, Miwa Somen, served at Miwa Chaya. The shrine is also the start or end point for a walk along the Yamanobe no Michi, a small section of Japan’s oldest road.
Last update: 2016-11-10
- Venue Details & Access Info
1422 Miwa, Sakurai
From JR Miwa Station:
- 5 minutes on foot from the station.
Related Venues Saijinja Shrine
- 大神神社 Ohmiwa Jinja Shrine
- address 桜井市三輪1422 1422 Miwa, Sakurai
- Opening Time & Admissions
Open all hours
Amulets and other items can only be purchased between 9:00 - 17:00
Opening hours vary during year end and new year
- Contact Details