Hananoiwaya-jinja in Kumano, Japan's oldest shrine 花の窟神社

Shinto shrine in Mie Prefecture

Since the 8th century, the Hananoiwaya-jinja in Kumano has been recognized as a high place of Japanese cosmogony given the tombs it houses; that of Izanami, the co-creating deity of the world and of the Shinto pantheon and that of his son Kasuguchi, the kami of fire. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 as part of the Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes of the Kii Mountain Range, the shrine offers a mystical dive as close as possible to the roots of Shintoism.

These two deities were charged by the other kami of Heaven to give a solid form to the Earth which until then was empty and shapeless like "a jellyfish floating on the sea". They then created the first island of the archipelago, Onokoro Island, or "first dry land" in the waters of the Seto Inland Sea and then all the other islands of Japan.

From their union on the island of Onokoro will be born several kami including Tsukuyomi, kami of the moon, Amaterasu, kami of the sun and Susanoo, kami of storms then Kagutsuchi, the kami of fire. When the latter is born, Izanami will succumb to his burns.

Izanami et Izanagi

Izanami and Izanagi


The Tomb of Kagutsuchi, the Fire Kami

Opposite the tomb of Izanami, sits another divine tomb; that of his son, Kagutsuchi. Here again, the spirit of the kami is embodied in a natural element; a rock 18 meters high. The legend says that after the death of Izanami, Izanagi, mad with pain, would have decapitated and dismembered his son whom he considered responsible for the disappearance of his beloved. Eight gods are said to have been born from his blood and eight others from different parts of his body.

The two tombs, paved with small white stones and surrounded by a fence, see many worshipers pass by daily. Some even indulge in a small mystical ritual consisting of placing a small white stone in one of the cavities of the rock of Izanami hoping to see their wish come true.


The rock symbolizing the burial of Kagutsuchi, the god of fire



Hananoiwaya-jinja hanging rope


Address, timetable & access

  • Address

  • Phone

  • Timetable

    From Kumanoshi Station, take the Mie Kotsu bus and get off at Hana-no-Iwaya bus stop (4 min). It is also possible to reach the shrine on foot from Kumanoshi Station (about 15 min).
  • Price

  • Access

    Open every day

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