Built more than 1,700 years ago, Niutsuhime-jinja Shrine has been the grand head shrine of more than 180 shrines nationwide that enshrine Niutsuhime no Okami, the younger sister of Amaterasu Omikami, who hid in Amano. Legend holds it that Takanomiko no Okami, the son of Niutsuhime no Okami, took the form of a hunter and led the monk Kukai to establish Koyasan. Standard practice was to worship at the shrine after passing through the Futatsu-Torii Gates lying on the Choishi-michi (Stone Marker Trail), the principal Koyasan pilgrimage route, and then to continue along the Koyasan route. Until the Edo Period (1603 to 1867), Shugendo practitioners would carry the shrine’s goshintai (an object of worship in which a deity is believed to reside) along the Katsuragi Shugen route that took them to 28 sutra mounds and 49 temples. The Jinkan-sai Festival, which celebrates the return of the deity to the shrine, continues to be held each year on July 18. The shrine’s precincts are home to a miniature shrine to En no Gyoja and monuments to other Shugendo practitioners.
Shrine office 0736-26-0102
230 Kami-amano, Katsuragi-cho, Ito-gun, Wakayama Prefecture
30 minutes from JR Kaseda Station via community bus (get off at the last stop)
Open 24 hours (shrine office: 8:45 to 16:30)
50 spaces (including space for large buses)