Togakushi Jinja Shrine


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Dragon Legends and Traditions:The Kuzuryu Nine-Headed Dragon Legend of Togakushi
History:Shrines and Temples、Treasure Hall and Museum
Good Luck and Festivals:Spiritual Sites, Festival and Shinto Rituals
The Arts:Mural Painting and Picture


Spring / Summer / Autumn / Winter


Cultural Experiences(Kagura Dance、Amulet, Vermilion Seal) / Walk / Photograph

Founded on the Door of the Celestial Rock Cave, one of Japan’s most sacred sites

Standing on the lower slopes of Mount Togakushi, Togakushi Jinja is a complex of five shrines: upper shrine Okusha; middle shrine Chusha; lower shrine Hokosha; Kuzuryusha shrine for the proprietary deity of the local villages; and Hinomikosha shrine dedicated to the god of fire and performing arts. Said to have been founded 2,000 years ago, Togakushi Jinja Shrine is deeply rooted in history. Mount Togakushi is said to be the actual Door of the Celestial Rock Cave, its resting place after it was flung away to prevent Sun Goddess Amaterasu from hiding her light. The shrine particularly flourished from the 17th century, when Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu endowed it with land generating enough rice to annually sustain a thousand people. Okusha functions as the shrine headquarters. Since each of the five sub-shrines has a handsome seal, you will want to collect a full of set of scarlet impressions. People flock especially to Okusha to pray for good harvests and for specific outcomes, such as victory in sporting events.

To make your visit even more memorable, view a kagura dance

Since only the deities involved in the incident when Amaterasu hid her light in the Celestial Rock Cave are enshrined at Togakushi, the shrine has deep associations with kagura music and dance. To lure out Amaterasu, Ame-no-Uzume, the dawn goddess of mirth and revelry danced on an overturned tub and, thus, began kagura. In the traditional repertoire of Daidai Kagura at Togakushi, there are ten dances, including one to dispel evil, one for bountiful harvests, and one to display the beauty of the shrine maidens. Performances are held about 70 times a year. Because the dances are sacred rites, please follow protocols and, before and after, pay your respects to the gods.

The Kuzuryu Nine-Headed Dragon Legend of Togakushi

The Kuzuryu Nine-Headed Dragon Legend of Togakushi

To carry out ascetic practices, a monk called Gakumon climbed Mount Iizuna. Here, he cast a kongosho, a sacred object he had been carrying in the hope it would help him find a place where the teachings of the Buddha would flourish. When the kongosho landed in a treasure cave on a nearby mountain, Gakumon could see a light glowing where it fell. He made his way to the place and started praying. In the dark of night, from the midst of a howling wind, Kuzuryu, a guardian dragon with nine heads, appeared. Kuzuryu told Gakumon that establishing Buddhism would save people and that a large temple would be built on this mountain. The dragon then entered the treasure cave and was sealed inside with a large rock. The name Togakushi literally means door-cover, and some say that Mount Togakushi is named for this incident.

Togakushi Jinja Shrine


3690 Togakushi, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture


All shrines: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm


Open daily (Oku-sha is closed in winter)


Free of charge




By Alpico kotsu Bus from JR Nagano Sta., about 60 min
For Hoko-sha (lower shrine), to Hoko-shagu-mae; for Chu-sha (middle shrine), to Chu-shagu-mae; for Oku-sha (upper shrine), to Oku-sha (no bus service during winter)

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