As much as we love the hustle and bustle of big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, it’s the secret, secluded sites in Japan that truly blow us away. One of the most stunning locations you’ll find off the beaten track is Motonosumi Inari Shrine in Nagato City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, where 123 red torii shrine gates wind down along a mountain towards a cliff overlooking the Sea of Japan.
The beautiful colours, lush greenery and fresh ocean winds make this the perfect place to appreciate the connection between nature and the Shinto religion.
Not only is the landscape here truly beautiful, the shrine itself has an interesting history. First established in 1955 after a divine revelation from a fox, spirits are believed to be housed here, after being split from Taikodani Inari Shrine in neighboring Shimane Prefecture about 60 years ago. The torii gates, which stretch over a 100-meter distance, were built over a ten-year-period from 1987, giving us the beautiful landscape we see today.
Whether you’re after a bountiful catch of fish, success in business, a safe journey, a baby, or a soul mate, it’s believed that praying to the deity here can make your wishes come true. You’ll have to make sure you have good aim, though, because the offertory box for prayers is in an unusual spot, in a place you won’t see anywhere else in Japan.
Usually located on ground level, the offertory box is located at the top of the five-meter-tall torii gate at the entrance of the path to the shrine. Known as the most difficult in the country for throwing money into, it’s believed your wish will come true if your offering lands in the box.
You can also visit the Ryugu no Shiofuki (“Dragon Palace Geyser”), which is located just past the final torii gate near the ocean. When waves break against a hole in the cliff here, the compressed air makes the water shoot up to 30 meters upwards, which is said to resemble a dragon soaring in the sky.
If you’d like to visit the area, it’s in quite a secluded region that’s not easily accessible by public transport. However, if you’re unable to visit by car, the shrine is a 20-minute taxi ride from Nagato-Furuichi Station.
Shrine information Motonosumi Inari Jinja / 元乃隅稲成神社 Address: Yamaguchi-ken, Nagato-shi 山口県長門市油谷津黄498
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