History
What are the sights to see at Aoshima Shrine?
10 types of wish-making rituals
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Aoshima Shrine, located on the tiny island of Aoshima in Miyazaki prefecture, is surrounded by lush greenery and the dazzling blue ocean. The island is where the traditional Japanese legend of the Yamasachi-hiko and Umisachi-hiko brothers took place, and where Yamasachi-hiko and Toyotama-bime, the princess of the sea, meet and fall in love. Because of this, Aoshima Shrine is known to grant wishes in matchmaking. With unique wish-making rituals, a tunnel of wooden votive plaques and more, Aoshima Shrine provides an enjoyable spiritual experience with a tropical touch.

History of Aoshima Shrine

The exact year of when Aoshima Shrine’s remains unclear, but since it was mentioned in writings during the Heian period (794 - 1185), it is said to be some tiem before 820. In ancient time, the entire island of Aoshima was considered an extremely sacred place, and only selected individuals were allowed to pray at Aoshima Shrine.

In the legend, the brothers trade their hunting and fishing weapons, and Yamasachi-hiko goes fishing for the first time. Yamasachi-hiko loses his brother’s fishing tool, and goes on a search for it as his brother will not forgive him if he doesn’t.

On his journey, Yamasachi-hiko meets Toyotama-bime, the princess of the sea and marries her. Yamasachi-hiko eventually finds the fishing tool, but gets caught up in some arguments with his brother, but everything is finally resolved and Yamasachi-hiko becomes ruler of the land.
The gods enshrined in this shrine, Hikohoho-demino-mikoto, Toyotama-himeno-mikoto and Shiozutsuno-okami are all from the legend of the Yamasachi-hiko and Umisachi-hiko brothers. Hikohoho-demino-mikoto refers to Yamasachi-hiko, and it is said that Yamasachi-hiko and Toyotama-bime married on Aoshima.

About Aoshima


Yayoi Bridge

Aoshima is a small island in Miyazaki prefecture, with a circumference of only 1.5 kilometers. Mainland Miyazaki and Aoshima are connected by the Yayoi Bridge. The island is home to many subtropical plants, such as the Livistona tree and hibiscus flower. The Livistona tree is designated as a national natural monument.

Ride around Aoshima on a tuk-tuk!


A tuk-tuk in Aoshima

From Aoshima’s beach to inner-Aoshima, you can take a tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuks are commonly seen in southeast Asian countries like Thailand, and are a three-wheeled auto rickshaw. You can ride one from Aoshima Station to Aoshima Shrine.

What are the sights to see at Aoshima Shrine?

Path to the Shrine


Path to the shrine

The pathway to Aoshima shrine is made from sandy soil. The entire island of Aoshima is actually made from an accumulation of sand. If you look closely, you can find bits of shells in the sandy soil.

Main Hall


The main hall

The main hall of Aoshima Shrine is painted a beautiful vermillion color. The main hall has been rebuilt several times, and the one you see today was built in 1974. The statue of Benzaiten, god enshrined at the main hall can be seen with a prior reservation.

Hyuga Shinwa-kan

The Hyuga Shinwa-kan locates on the Aoshina Shrine grounds, and has exhibits related to the legend of the Yamasachi-hiko and Umisachi-hiko brothers. There is a wax doll exhibition that portrays the legend with 30 wax dolls.

Rear Shrine


Inori-no-kodo, or “road of prayers”

Walk through the side of the main hall to reach the rear shrine. The path to the rear shrine is called inori-no-kodo, or the “road of prayers”. On the path, there is a tunnel of ema, or wooden votive plaques. Other parts of the path are surrounded by subtropical plants.


The rear shrine

The rear shrine places right around the center of the entire island. Many pieces of pottery from the Yayoi period (300BC – 250) have been dug up in this area, and it is said that this area was often used for spiritual festivals. The area is known as one of the holiest spots of the entire island.

On the Livistona tree on the side of the rear shrine, you can hang up the special wishing papers, called musubi-koyori. There are five colors, and the most popular is the pink shade.

Types of wish-making rituals

There are 10 wish-making rituals you can try out at Aoshima Shrine. Here are five of the most famous ones:

Musubi-koyori – 産霊紙縒


Musubi-koyori

The musubi-koyori ritual can be experienced in the rear shrine. Choose one of the five colored strips and tie it onto the Livistona tree. The five colors are pink (matchmaking), purple (safety), green (success academics), yellow (business prosperity) and white (answering of prayers).

Kamon-shinji – 掃守神事

You can experience the kamon-shinji ritual in front of the romon gate. This ritual is said to bring economic fortune. Put coins or your cards in the special water, and make a wish while sweeping the area with the designated broom.

Wadatsumi-no-harai – 海積の祓

Wadatsumi-no-harai is said to make your wishes come true. For this ritual, which takes place next to the shrine office, a wishing slip is placed in a well. Your wish is said to come true if the slip dissolves in the well. The water in the well is very low in salinity, despite the fact that it is on an island surrounded by saltwater.

Sai-no-me shinji – 賽の目神事

For the sai-no-me shinji, one rolls a huge dice. The dice’s sides are labeled 縁 (matchmaking), 金 (money), 身 (health and safety), 交 (travel), 厄 (avoiding trouble), 学 (academia). The side you roll out is said to be what is the most important to you.

Ame-no-hiraka – 天の平瓮

Even further into the rear shrine, you can experience the ame-no-hiraka ritual. You throw an unglazed plate called a “hiraka” and throw it into the designated area while quietly saying your wish. If the plate successfully lands in the area, your wish is said to come true. Even if it shatters, it is still said to help bring you good luck and to brush away bad luck.

Events

Aoshima Shrine Hadaka Mairi (Jan.)

At the Aoshima Shrine Hadaka Mairi, new adults (those who are turning 20 that year) from all over Japan gather at Aoshima Shrine to pray for a safe year and adulthood. They pray and cleanse themselves only wearing a fundoshi, a traditional Japanese underwear. This ritual comes from the scene in the legend of the Yamasachi-hiko and Umisachi-hiko brothers, when Yamasachi-hiko returns from the sea and the townspeople celebrated by entering in the sea naked.

Access

Nearest station: JR Aoshima Station

From Miyazaki Station

【Miyazaki Sta.】JR Nichinan Line / for Aburatsu
→【Aoshima Sta.】about a 10-minute walk

From Nichinan Station

【Nichinan Sta.】JR Nichinan Line / for Aburatsu
→【Aoshima Sta.】about a 10-minute walk

From Miyazaki Airport

【Miyazaki Airport】JR Miyazaki Airport Line / for Nobeoka
→【Tayoshi Sta.】JR Nichinan Line / for Aburatsu
→【Aoshima Sta.】about a 10-minute walk

Information

Address
2-13-1, Aoshima, Miyazaki, Miyazki
Phone
0985-65-1262
Hours
Mar. to Oct.: 5:30a.m. - sunset
Nov. to Feb.: 6:00a.m. - sunset
Closed
Open year-round

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