鵜戸神宮

Udo-jingū


Useful Information

Location:
Open: All year daily.
[2020]
Fee: free, donations welcome.
[2020]
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church,
Light: n/a
Dimension:
Guided tours: n/a
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no, many steps
Bibliography:
Address:
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History


Description

鵜戸神宮 (Udo-jingū) is a Shinto shrine in a cave in the side of the cliff, the honden or main shrine, is inside the cavern with a view of the ocean. It is actually rare for shrines to be located inside of a cave and this is the most famous of these shrines in Japan. The main shrine is a wooden building which is painted red. To pray here is said to bring good fortune in childbirth, a happy marriage, matchmaking and safety at sea. The water dripping from two rocks called Ochichi-Iwa (breast rock) is used to make a candy called Ochichi-Ame which is said to bring good fortune in pregnancy and improve the production of breast milk. The reason is the following legend.

Toyotama-Hime, the daughter of the god of the sea, transformed into human form and married Yamasachi-Hiko. She became pregnant and came to this place to give birth. For this she built a birth-hut from the feathers of a cormorant. She instructed her husband not to look as she would have to return to her former non-human form. Of course, despite her instructions, Yamasachi-Hiko looked at her during childbirth which forced her to return home to her father after delivering her children. She removed her breasts and stuck them to the cave wall, so her children would grow strong and remember her love for them. That's why the water from those rocks is considered to be the milk of a goddess. One of her children was Ugayafukiaezu, the father of Jimmu, the first emperor of Japan.

Despite the main shrine there are numerous other small shrines. For example, if you leave the trail to the left before you get to the main shrine there is nice small shrine in another cave. Unlike the main shrine there are almost no visitors.