Ontake-jinja Okusha: Ancient Shrine on Japan’s Second Highest Volcano
Ontake Shrine's Upper Shrine 「御嶽神社奥社」
Close to the summit on Ontake-san 「Mount Ontake, 御嶽山」 is the upper shrine of Ontake-jinja called Ontake-jinja Okusha. Pilgrims dressed in white robes with a conical hat and wooden walking stick trek up the mountain, visiting this shrine to pray to the 3 deities enshrined here.
The shrine has a long history, being founded in 702 A.D. Over the years the shrines on the mountain have been visited by Emperors, and the shrines themselves have been rebuilt many times.
As is typical of most Japanese Shinto shrines, two lion-dog statues 「lion-dog statue, 狛犬」 stand guard at either side of the stone torii 「鳥居」 gate. Beyond the gate is sacred ground.
Ontake-san is a mountain in the Kiso Valley of Nagano Prefecture. It is a popular mountain as the hike is quite easy, taking only about 3 hours or less from the main station at around 2200m. This area is mountainous and pristine, dotted with many historic villages.
Other photos from Ontake-san and the surrounding area:
- Buddhist statues on Ontake-san
- Crystal clear waters of Atera Gorge
- Historic Narai-juku, a post town on the old Nakasendo