Just an hour drive from Nagano’s city center, you will find Togakushi Shrine. The shrine has a history of over 2,000 years, and is a spiritual power spot in the mountains of central Japan.
The shrine is consisted of five smaller, individual shrines, and most visitors take their time to visit all five. Let nature guide your way into Togakushi Shrine, and spend a day for spiritual relaxation and rejuvenation.
About Togakushi Shrine
Togakushi Shrine sits at the base of Mount Togakushi. The shrine is made up of these five smaller shrines: Okusha (奥社), Chusha (中社), Hokosha (宝光社), Kuzuryusha (九頭龍社) and Hinomikosha (火之御子社).
The name “Togakushi” comes from a Japanese mythological tale of the goddess Amaterasu-Omikami who was hiding behind the rocks. The rock she was hiding behind was then thrown by another deity, and the rock is said to have landed in the current Togakushi area.
The rock eventually grew into a mountain, later named Mount Togakushi, and Togakushi Shrine was made to celebrate the deities mentioned in the myth.
The Five Shrines
Each of the five shrines at Togakushi Shrine celebrates a different deity, and are a bit far from one another. In order to get to all five, the 9.8 kilometer “Togakushi Kodo 戸隠古道” route is recommended. You can complete the route in about 3 hours.
Hokosha – 宝光社
The trail begins at Hokosha Shrine. There is a bus running to Hokosha, so you can get dropped off here to start your hike.
Right: Stone steps; Left: Onna-zaka
In order to get to Hokosha, you must climb up 270 steps. The steps on the right are a bit steep and dangerous, so the more mellow steps on the left are another option.
Hokosha’s main hall, or shaden (社殿)
The deity Amenouwa-haruno-mikoto is worshipped at Hokosha. She is the deity of safe childbirth, and is known to protect women and children.
Don’t forget to stop and stare at Hokosha’s beautiful wooden exterior. The carved shrine façade is am amazing sight.
Hinomikosha – 火之御子社
Hinomikosha’s main hall, or shaden (社殿)
Hinomikosha locates about a 10-minute walk away from Hokosha. Here, the deity of entertainment and matchmaking, Ameuzumeno-mikoto is worshipped.
Spouses Cedar, or “Fufu-sugi 夫婦杉” in Japanese
In the shrine grounds, you will find the Spouses Cedar, or Fufu-sugi (夫婦杉). The tree is around 500 years old, and is said to be a good-luck spot for matchmaking.
Chusha – 中社
Chusha’s main hall, or shaden (社殿)
Chusha locates in the center of Togakushi Shrine. It celebrates the deity Amenoya-gokoro-omoikaneno-mikoto, who brings luck in academia and business prosperity.
The painting on the ceiling of the main hall is a restoration of a painting from the end of the Edo period (1603 – 1867).
Kuzuryusha – 九頭龍社
The two remaining shrines, Kuzuryusha and Okusha, are close to eachother, but are about a 4-kilometer walk from Chusha.
Kuzuryusha’s main hall, or shaden (社殿)
After the long walk, you will first find Kuzuryusha.
Kuzuryusha is the oldest of the five smaller shrines. The deity, Kuzuryu-okami, is worshipped by locals as the deity of the land. This shrine is also said to be effective in matchmaking.
Okusha – 奥社
Okusha’s main hall, or shaden (社殿)
The very last of the five shrines is Okusha, and is the main shrine of Togakushi Shrine. The deity worshipped here is Amenotajikara-onomikoto, who is said to have thrown the rock. This deity brings luck in overall luck, answering prayers and victory in sports.
Goshuin Collecting at the Five Shrines
At each of the five shrines, you can collect a special shrine stamp, called goshuin (御朱印). Each of the five stamps are different in design.
You can purchase an official goshuin booklet (御朱印帳) for all of your stamps.
400-Year Old Cedar Trees
Cedar tree road that continues for 500 meters
Between Chusha and Okusha, there is a 500-meter road that is packed with cedars on both sides. The trees are over 400 years old, and are designated as Nagano prefecture’s natural monument.
The road is especially beautiful on the first days of spring and winter, with the sun rising right in between the cedar trees.
Nearest station: Togakushi Hokosha-mae 戸隠宝光社前 (Bus)
From Nagano Station長野駅
【Nagano Sta.】Local Bus Alpico Express / for Togakushi Kogen
From Tokyo Station東京駅
【Tokyo Sta.】Hokuriku Shinkansen / for Kanazawa
→【Nagano Sta.】Local Bus Alpico Express / for Togakushi Kogen
Togakushi is actually well known amongst foodies as a soba haven. There are many soba restaurants along Togakushi Kodo trail where you can stop for a bowl of soba noodles.
Soba noodles are usually eaten with dipping sauce, but at Togakushi, it is eaten with salt. Adding only salt to the freshly made soba noodles is said to accentuate the sweetness and aroma of the noodles. Stop by one of the soba restaurants in the area for a post-hike soba delight!
3506 Togakushi, Nagano-shi, Nagano