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Suwa Taisha (Suwa Grand Shrine) consists of four shrines: the Kamisha-honmiya (main shrine) and the Maemiya (old shrine) are located south of Suwa Lake, and the Shimosha-Akimiya (autumn shrine) and the Harumiya (spring shrine) are located north of the lake. Suwa Taisha is one of the oldest shrines in Japan and also the head of more than 10,000 Suwa shrines scattered around the country. Its feature is that there is no "honden (the most sacred building that enshrines shinto-kami (god)." It is said that the ancient shrines don't have shrine pavilions. People have had faith in nature since ancient times, such as mountains and sacred trees, and Suwa Taisha remains as it was back in the day maintaining its ancient look and feel.
- Kamisha-honmiya: １-banchi, Miyayama, Nakasu, Suwa-shi, Nagano; Kamisha-maemiya: 2030 Miyagawa, Chino, Nagano; Shimosha-harumiya: 193 Shimo-Suwamachi, Suwa-gun, Nagano; Shimosha-akimiya: 5828 Shimo-suwamachi, Suwa-gun, Nagano
- Contact No.
- ・Kamisha-honmiya, Suwa-taisha: 30-min drive from JR Chino Station ・Kamisha-maemiya, Suwa Taisha: From JR Chino Station, take Suwa bus bound for Okuma for 7 min and get off at "Maemiya-mae" bus stop ・Shimosha-harumiya: From JR Shimosuwa Station get on the Shimosuwa-machi circular bus on Azami-go, Taisha Kogan Line, ride for 10 min and get off at "Suwa-taisha Harumiya" bus stop ・Shimosha-akimiya, Suwa Taisha: From JR Shimosuwa Station get on Azami-go, Taisha-kogan Line, Hoshigaoka Line, or Hagikura・Toyohashi Line of Shimosuwa-machi Circular Bus, ride for 3 min and get off at "Suwa-taisha Akimiya-mae" bus stop
- Opening Hours / Holidays
- Anytime on premise (9:00-16:00 for Hobutsuden (Treasure House))
Open all year round
- Official Website
- Time Required
- 60 minutes
- Admission fee
- Free on premise (500 yen for Hobutsuden (Treasure House))
※ Some information is displayed in Japanese and machine-translated English, which may not be accurate.
For the latest information, please check the official website for each spot.
Origin of Faith in Suwa: Kamisha-honmiya
Located south of Suwa Lake, Kamisha-honmiya is said to be the origin of faith in Suwa. Suwa-zukuri is an architectural style that has no honden (the most sacred building that enshrines god), and it features Shikyaku-mon (four-legged gate) that Ieyasu Tokugawa donated and many other existing important cultural properties.
Still Shrouded in Mystery: Onbashira
There are four Onbashira (pillars) surrounding the main shrine. Changed every 7 years, there are various explanations as for the purpose of the four columns, which is still shrouded in mystery. Nonetheless, once you see it right there, you can feel it as a sanctuary area with all your senses.
Shimosha-akimiya (Lower Autumn Shrine)
Heihaiden, a national important cultural property, has the exquisite sculptural decoration, which is a must to see. It also features Neiri-no-sugi, an 800-year-old Japanese cedar that is said to snort in the middle of the night, the biggest, 1.7 meter in length, bronze "komainu (shrine dogs)" in Japan, and "Chozuya (water-filled basin to purify hands before worship)" that is a hot spring. A lot to see!
Great Shimenawa on Kaguraden
Kaguraden in Shimosha-akimiya has the great Shimenawa (enclosing rope). It means a sanctuary on the other side to remove negative vibes and invite God. If the rope is wound up from the right, it is meant to prevent the impure from entering. It is the biggest in Japan and its size is as big as Izumo Taisha in Shimane Prefecture, which is 7.5 meter in length, 4.5 meter round at its thickest, 1 ton in weight. It is massive to show its presence and is an important cultural property.
The Onbashira Festival is the biggest event in Suwa Taisha, which is held every 6 years. Teams of men drag down by themselves the 16 fir logs, which are each 17 meter in height, 1 meter in diameter, and 13 tons in weight, without using any vehicles or other tools. Some of them are brave enough to ride the logs down the steep hill and wade in a river to carry them. It is famous as a bold and boisterous event. About 200,000 people come to this festival, and it becomes a popular topic in the year of the festival.