If you travel to the Hakone area, visiting the shrines is a must. If you visit Hakone Shrine, which is famous as one of Kanto's most important spiritual energy sites, why not extend your visit to "Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu (the main palace of Kuzuryu Shrine)"?
This time, we experienced "Ryo-sha Mairi," which means visiting both Hakone Shrine and Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu. I will show the route to both shrines, what benefits you get, and what you can do on the tour.
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Shrine visits are a must-do when you visit Hakone
Koma-Inu (guardian dog) at Hakone Shrine
Hakone Shrine stands near Lake Ashi in Hakone. If you are sightseeing in Hakone, you definitely want to visit this shrine.
The 1260-year-old shrine was once worshipped as God of fight by many warlords. It is now a famous spiritual energy site many prayers visit since it is believed to offer many divine benefits, including good luck, purification, easy delivery, traffic safety, and economic fortune.
The relationship between Hakone Shrine and Kuzuryu Shrine
Torii of Kuzuryu Shrine
If you visit Hakone Shrine, you will also want to visit Kuzuryu Shrine.
The shrine enshrines Mangan-jonin, who had received spiritual power of the Great God of Hakone and subdued a poisonous dragon that once lived in Lake Ashi that tormented people. If you pray to the Great God of Hakone, who resides in Mount Hakone, and to the Great God of Kuzuryu, who is the guardian of Lake Ashi, you will surely be able to get even more divine benefits.
In addition, Kuzuryu Shrine is highly reputable as a god of matchmaking. If you want to find a nice partner, or want to be blessed with a good relationship, make sure you pay a visit.
Let's try Ryo-sha Mairi.
Hakone Kuzuryu Forest Signboard
Visiting Hakone Shrine first
I went on Ryo-sha Mairi in the end of February. Having rented a car at Odawara Station, I got to the parking lot of Hakone Shrine in about 30 minutes. Unfortunately, it was rainy, but having in mind that a visit to a shrine in the rain is also welcomed by the god, I headed for Hakone Shrine, in which atmosphere had gotten even more sublime in the rain.
Hakone Shrine the fourth Torii and Chozuya
This time, my plan was to park in the parking lot of Hakone Shrine, pray at the shrine, and then drive further into the back to pray at Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu.
First, I headed out to pray at Hakone Shrine. Among many of the parking lots available around Hakone Shrine, this time I used the one right next to the amulet-issuing office.
Praying at Hakone Shinto shrine, which brings various divine benefits
Chozuya at Hakone Shrine
At the amulet-issuing office that stands next to the parking lot, I first asked for a goshuin, a seal stamp given as a token of a visit to the shrine. When you receive the number tag and proceed from the amulet-issuing office, the fourth torii and the chozuya (the shrine's wash corner where you purify yourself with water) catches your eye. Once you have purged yourself with water flowing out of the dragons' mouths, wait no more to head for the shrine.
89 steps leading to the shrine
There is a total of 89 steps in the stairway to the shrine. It is the "fifth torii" that emerges as you go up while fully enjoying the solemn scenery surrounded by cedar.
After going through the fifth torii, I saw the main hall of Hakone Shrine, which stood in a dignified manner in the rain.
Hakone Shrine Main Hall
The green and gold decorations create beautiful contrasts with the deep-vermilion shrine. Wet in the rain, the komainu (guardian dog statues) and the roof also carried out an elegant look. It can be seen from its appearance that the shrine has a well-established historical origin.
When you finish praying, draw omikuji (a fortune written on a strip) at the amulet-issuing office on the opposite side of the main hall. At Hakone Shrine, it is recommended to take home the omikuji, which is a message from God, but it is OK if you tie it to an Omikuji string set up on the shrine property.
omikuji drawn at Hakone Shrine
There are various theories, but it is said that the reason for tying omikuji to omikuji strings comes from the saying of "connecting to God." Regardless of what the fortune says, it is said that you should tie it while praying that your life would be better. If you choose to take it home, keep it in your personal wallet and be sure to handle it carefully.
There are many omikuji tied to the omikuji strings
Since I drew a daikichi omikuji (excellent luck) this time, I decided to take it home with me. There were many omikuji tied to the omikuji strings on the property.
Next to the main hall of Hakone Shrine stands the shingu (the newer hall) of Kuzuryu Shrine. This shingu is said to enshrine the same god as the main hall of Kuzuryu Shrine, which I was on my way to visit. People who cannot go all the way to the main shrine in the forest can get the spiritual energy for matchmaking from the shingu of Kuzuryu Shrine as well.
Dragon god suisha where nine dragon heads are set in line
In front of the shingu was the dragon god shuisha where nine dragon heads were placed in line. What flows from the dragons' mouths is god water or Ryujin (dragon god) water that comes from the ground of the property.
It is said that if you receive the spiritual Ryujin water in your palm and wash your mouth with it, you will be able to purge yourself of any impurity.
set your vow slip adrift and make a vow to God
Next to that, there was a joju-suiban (wish-fulfilling basin). You can make a pledge to God by wishing and vowing upon a "vow slip" given out at the amulet-issuing office and setting it adrift on the joju-suiban.
Torii of peace seen from the stone steps
As I went down the stone steps after praying, there was an emerging view of "Torii of peace", which is the symbol of Hakone Shrine. It is a torii in the lake, standing in Lake Ashi.
Though I was familiar with the view of this torii seen from Lake Ashi, this was my first time to directly see it from the cedar forest. It stood dauntless, wrapped in the soft sound of the rainfall.
arrow cedar with a historical feel
At the side of the stone steps leading to the torii of peace, I saw one of the holy trees "yadate-no-sugi" or "arrow cedar." The tree is believed to be over 1,200 years old and it is a gigantic tree that is 6 meters thick and 35 meters high. The origin of the tree's name comes from when Sakanoue No Tamuramaro, who was a warlord in the early Heian era, delivered an arrow with victory prayer to Hakone Shrine, while proceeding to take control of Tohoku.
I received the goshuin that I had ordered at the amulet-issuing office and decided that I might as well also get a talisman. Then I got in the car and headed for Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu.
Drove from Hakone Shrine to the parking lot of Hakone Garden
The promenade leading to Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu
At the amulet-issuing office of Hakone Shrine, I asked a shrine maiden the way to Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu. She said, "If you leave the parking lot and go further back, there is a facility called Hakone Garden, so please park your car at the parking lot there".
The way from Hakone Shrine to Hakone Garden is one straight road. If you drive down the road for about 5 minutes from Hakone Shrine, you get to Hakone Garden, which is the parking lot closest to Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu. Please note that there is no station nearby, and it takes over 30 minutes to walk from Hakone Shrine to the parking lot of Hakone Garden.
The parking fee of Hakone Garden is 1,000 yen. There is "The Prince Hakone Lake Ashinoko" at the back of Hakone Garden, but it cannot be used because it is only opened to the hotel's guests.
A 10-minute walk from Hakone Garden, heading towards Hakone Kuzuryu Forest
From here, I walked to the pain palace while the rain became slightly stronger. As I went straight, I found a signboard on the promenade leading to the main palace. I proceeded it as the correct direction.
In about a minute, you will get to a street called Kamiyama-dori. From here, it takes 15 minutes to Hakone Kuzuryu Forest, in which the main palace is located. With a sight of Lake Ashi on the left, I kept promenading in a relaxed mood. You can walk freely while listening to wild birds and fully immersing yourself in the clean air.
The promenade was maintained so well that I could walk without a problem even not wearing sneakers. However, I do not recommend a visit on heels and the like since you will need to walk for over 15 minutes and, plus, though not steep, but there are still some slight slopes on the way.
the entrance to Hakone Kuzuryu Forest
After 15 minutes, the entrance to Hakone Kuzuryu Forest came into my sight. Hakone Kuzuryu Forest is a large, well-maintained park, and the Kuzuryu Shrine's main palace is located behind the park. I paid 500 yen for admission fee and headed for the main palace.
Kuzuryu Shrine enshrining the dragon god of matchmaking
Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu in beautiful vermilion
As I walked on the sidewalk, the torii (the shrine gate) floating in Lake Ashi came into my sight. The main palace of Kuzuryu Shrine was almost there. It took about 5 minutes from the entrance of Hakone Kuzuryu Forest to Kuzuryu Shrine.
As I usually spend busy days in concrete jungle, it was a valuable experience for me to walk down the street surrounded by nature for 20 minutes one way. By the time I arrived at the main palace, I was filled with freshness surrounded by the smell of the rain and nature.
Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu
There are no priests or maidens stationed in Kuzuryu Shrine. Also, unlike Hakone Shrine, you cannot get omikuji or goshuin here. All it has are the main palace, the chozuya, and the torii floating in Lake Ashi. However, you can enjoy the divine view of nature here.
deer at Lake Ashi
Kuzuryu Shrine enshrining a god of matchmaking, I prayed that I would be blessed with a good relationship and headed home. On my way back, the rain never stopped, but exposure to the solemn atmosphere of the shrine made me feel somehow radiant with my spine stretched out. On my way back, I encountered two deer.
For a visit only to Hakone Shrine, the public transportation is also an excellent choice
Route H Hakone Tozan Bus
This time, I used a car, since I was on a Ryo-sha Mairi, but if you only visit the Hakone Shrine, it is recommended to use public transportation.
From Hakone Yumoto Station, Route H or K Hakone Tozan Bus takes you to Hakone Jinja Iriguchi (Hakone Shrine Entrance), which is the closest station to Hakone Shrine in about 35 minutes.
It takes about 10 minutes to walk to Hakone Shrine. I also recommend you try the Hakone Tozan Bus, which runs every 10 to 25 minutes.
More tips to enjoy Ryo-sha Mairi
You can get goshuin of three shrines at Hakone Shrine
Hakone Shirine goshuin
If you visit Hakone Shrine, you want to get goshuin (goshinin).
Goshuin is a seal stamp that is a "proof of a visit to the shrine." If you present a "goshuin pocketbook" dedicated to collecting goshuin, you will be able to have the name of the shrine or the gohonzon (principal image of worship) put in it as well as the date of your visit. Another characteristic of goshuin pocketbooks is having different designs depending on the shrine or temple.
Hakone Shrine also offers goshuin at the amulet-issuing office next to the parking lot. If you hand them your goshuin pocketbook before praying, you will be able to receive it stamped when you come back from praying. This amulet-issuing office also accepts goshuin pocketbooks.
There are three stamps given at Hakone Shrine. You can receive the goshuin of Hakone Shrine, Kuzuryu Shrine, and Ebisu Shrine of Hakone Seven Lucky Gods. They are 300 yen each.
They also carry a variety of Shinto amulets
Amulets of Kuzuryu Shrine and Hakone Motomiya
You would love to get an amulet of protection by god to commemorate your visit to a shrine. They offer not only the amulet of Hakone Shrine, but also the amulets of Kuzuryu Shrine and Hakone Motomiya.
The amulet of Hakone Shrine is a victory talisman (kachimamori) that features the arrow cedar as a motif. The amulet of Kuzuryu Shrine is for good luck, fortune, and wish fulfillment.
There are also other various amulets available for each divine benefit, such as matchmaking, traffic safety, purification, substitution and others; how about getting an amulet that suits your wish?
・ Hakone Shrine kachimamori 500 yen
・ Kuzuryu amulet 800 yen
・ Hakone Motomiya Good luck amulet 800 yen
The monthly festival of Saigyo at Kuzuryu Shrine is also worth checking out.
"Monthly Festival" held on the 13th of every month
It will be more enjoyable if you visit Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu at the time of Tsukinamisai, which is held on the 13th of every month. Many women who are troubled with love attend the festival, hoping to receive the divine benefit of increased luck in love. It is believed that the benefits get enhanced by visiting the monthly festival in conjunction with Hakone Shrine. Those who want to increase luck in love don't want to miss this.
The monthly festival is a festival to appreciate the benefits from God, and starts at 10 a.m. on the 13th of every month. It is a popular event that attracts more than 100 visitors every month.
A special sightseeing boat "Kuzuryu Shrine Prayer Boat" runs only on the day of the festival. Pay a round trip fare of 1,500 yen, receive a boarding ticket, a "Prayer Application Envelope", and a "goku (an offering to God)," and get onboard. Take the boat from Moto-Hakone Port to the harbor just beside Kuzuryu Shrine.
Join the monthly festival at Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu
The monthly festival at Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu
No priests or shrine maidens are stationed at Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu, but on this day, they serve the prayers by applicants for the ritual pray that takes place in conjunction with the monthly festival.
If you wish to pray, you can apply by putting a prayer fee of 2,000 yen or more in the “Prayer Application Envelope” you receive when you pay the boarding fee. After the praying, throw the content of the goku into Lake Ashi as a dedication to Kuzuryu (nine-headed dragon god), who settles in the lake in the end.
The festival is about an hour long. Communicate to Kuzuryu about your appreciation for everyday life and pray for further divine benefits.
You can also get enough divine benefits from Ryo-sha Mairi on any other day besides the 13th of each month, but those who want to attend a proper ritual pray at Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu are recommended to try Ryo-sha Mairi on the day of the monthly festival!
◆Monthly Festival at Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu
Attendance Fee: Free of charge
Prayer Boat Boarding Fee 1,500 yen
Ritual Pray 2,000 yen or more
Details: Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu Official Web Page
Praying for good luck at both shrines that commands the view of the mountain and the lake
The Hakone Shrine and the Kuzuryu Shrine are also well-known spiritual energy sites in Hakone. Although it is difficult to access Kuzuryu Shrine as it is located deep in the mountains, but going on a trip of the Ryo-sha Mairi while enjoying nature was a valuable experience.
In addition to matchmaking, there are various divine benefits you can expect of the Ryo-sha Mairi, including good luck, economic fortune, easy delivery and victory. When traveling to the Hakone area, make sure you drop by!