The oldest shrine of Japan
based on the old Shinto that worships mountains
Omiwa Jinja in Yamato, current Sakurai City, of Nara is said to be the oldest shrine of Japan that date back to the age before emperors. The shrine is dedicated to Omononushi-no-mikoto who appears in myths. Because his soul was comforted in Mt. Miwa just behind the shrine, the entire mountain is the subject of worship. So, there is no main hall but people worship the mountain through Mitsu torii at the back of the front shrine, which is a remainder of the old Shinto worshipping the nature as god.
Because Mt. Miwa is a mountain where the god lives, it is not allowed to cut down any tree or glass in the mountain. Mighty Japanese cedars, pines and cypresses grow densely. People wishing to climb Mt. Miwa for prayer make application at the adjacent Sai Jinja and allowed to climb the mountain wearing a white sash after going through a Shinto ritual. However, they are expected to comply with rules including shooting no photograph and returning within 3 Opening hours.
Omononushi-no-mikoto is the god known for saving the white rabbit of Inaba, so "Nadeusagi (rabbit to stroke)" is placed at the entrance of the gathering hall. It is said that stroking the rabbit will take away your pain. Stroked by so many people the rabbit is now mirror-shiny.
Address: 1422 Miwa, Sakurai, Nara
Directions: (Train) A 7-minute walk from Miwa Station on the JR Sakurai Line (one hour and 20 minutes from Shin-Osaka). (Car) 20 minutes from Tenri Interchange on the Nishi Meihan Expressway.