A part of a World Heritage site and popular as a spiritual spot
Kamikura Shrine is on Mt. Kamikura. To visit the shrine, you must climb steep stepping stones built by assembling natural stones. You would be panting heavily after climbing the 538 steps for the first time. At the end of the steps there are many large rocks. They are "Gotobiki ishi," the sacred object of the shrine that stood beside the rocks.
Gotobiki means toad in local dialect. The rocks are called gotobiki because the largest rock among them looks like a toad. Ritual equipments from the Yayoi Era (from mid-third century B.C. to mid-third century A.D. when wet-rice farming started in Japan) were found under the rocks, indicating that they were sacred also for ancient people.
Mt. Kamikura is a historic place mentioned in Chronicles of Japan (the oldest history book of Japan written during the Nara Period (710-794). The mountain is famous for Oto Matsuri, a festival that has 1400 years of history. February 6 every year 2000 men wearing white clothing tied with a straw rope and holding a torch run down the steep stone steps. The mountain is barred to women only on this day of the year. The place is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range" and attracting attention as a spiritual spot in recent years. Visiting the place may give you strength and make energetic in both body and soul.
Address: Shingu, Kamikura, Wakayama
Phone: 0735-22-2533(Kumano Hayatama Taisha)
Directions: (Train) 15 minutes on foot from Shingu Station on the JR Kii Honsen (about 4 hours from Shin-Osaka or Nagoya Station). (Car) 2 hours and 30 minutes from Omiya-Odai Interchange on the Kisei Expressway (free parking available).