In Kyoto, within Arashiyama's magical bamboo forest you'll find Nonomiya Shrine, a special shrine where many come to pray for a happy marriage and healthy children. You will see many wooden plaques around the temple grounds with wishes written on them asking for love.
Here we'll introduce Nonomiya Shrine, as well as what highlights you can see, what amulets you can find, and what wishes you can ask for!
What Kind of Place is Nonomiya Shrine?
Nonomiya Shrine is a small shrine in the middle of Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. Many come here seeking luck in love and marriage.
In ancient Japan, there was a custom in which unmarried princesses and empresses, called Saiku, were selected to bring offerings to the gods on behalf of the emperor, and sent to Ise Shrine Mie Prefecture.
At that time, the same Nonomiya Shrine that you see today served as the place where these Saiku would undergo a purification ritual for a year in preparation for their journey to Ise Shrine.
Young girls selected to become Saiku averaged between 10 and 13 years of age, however, some could be chosen from as young as 2 years, to as old as 28 years at the oldest. This custom lasted from around the year 673 to 660, in which 64 Saiku were chosen.
Even in The Tale of Genji, believed to be the oldest novel in the world, a princess is selected as a Saiku and undergoes purification at Nonomiya Shrine. To this day, you can still feel the nervousness of the Saiku who stayed at Nonomiya Shrine, before making their journey from Kyoto to Ise.
Getting to Nonomiya Shrine
After entering the small path inside the forest, you will come to Nonomiya Shrine. It's very easy to get to, only a short walk away from Arashiyama Station. It is open to visitors 24/7, and there is no admission charge.
・From Randen Arashiyama Station: Exit station and head right; turn at the corner of Snoopy Chocolat Kyoto Arashiyama Store (the path leading towards Bamboo Forest)
・From JR Kyoto Station: Take Sanin Main Line to Saga-Arashiyama Station (approx 27 min, 240 yen one-way)
・From JR Osaka Station: Take Tokaido Line New Rapid Train to Kyoto Station; transfer to JR Sanin Main Line, ride to Saga-Arashiyama Station (approx. 1 hr 4 min, 990 yen, one-way); walk towards Randen Arashiyama Station
・From JR Kansai Airport Station: Take JR Kansai Rapid Service to Osaka Station; transfer to JR Tokaido Line New Rapid Train, ride to Kyoto Station; transfer to JR Sanin Main Line, ride to Saga-Arashiyama Station (approx. 2 hr 15 min, 2,200 yen, one-way); walk towards Randen Arashiyama Station
Many Things to Wish For at Nonomiya Shrine!
Nonomiya Shrine is said to enshrine the gods of happy relationships, children, and even academic studying. It is believed that if you have been hoping for success in either of those things, all you have to do is come to this shrine, and dedicate your wish. Let us now introduce the deities enshrined in this shrine, and what wishes they may answer for you!
Honden (Main Shrine)
You will see the main shrine of Nonomiya Shrine immediately after going through the torii gate. The deity enshrined here is Nonomiya Okami (also known as Amaterasu Okami), said to grant health and wisdom.
The Shrine Beyond the Torii Gate
Shirafuku Inari Daimyojin is the deity enshrined in the first shrine you see after going through the vermilion torii on the right of the entrance. This is the deity to pray to for children, safe childbirth, and prosperous business.
Kameishi, a unique rock shaped like a turtle, is said to enshrine Nonomiya Daikokuten, the god of marriage.
It is believed that if you touch the Kameishi stone while chanting your wish for a happy marriage, your wish will come true within a year!
How to Properly Pray at a Shrine
There are rules you must follow when visiting shrines, and that includes when making your wish at Nonomiya Shrine. Even if you're only visiting for sightseeing, you may want to show respect for the deities by practicing the formal prayer method for yourself!
1. Bow before going through torii gates
The torii gate is considered the boundary between holy grounds and the human world. Bowing briefly is a form of respect as you step through the torii into the sacred grounds.
2. Wash your hands at the 'chozuya'
Near every entrance to a shrine is a little water well called a chozuya. Come here to wash your hands as soon as you pass through the torii. Scoop the water with the ladle, pouring the water into each hand to purify yourself. Originally, people would use the water to rinse their mouths as well, however, because the water at Nonomiya Shrine is still water, it is not a good idea to use it for your mouth.
3. Enter the Main Hall and pray
After washing your hands, head to the main shrine. Stand in front, bow twice, clap your hands twice, and then bow one more time. If you want to give an offering, now is when you can throw it into the offering box. If there is a bell, ring it after giving your offering, then repeat the bowing and clapping sequence above.
4. Praying at a shrine in the temple precincts
After visiting and praying at the main shrine, you can visit any of the other smaller shrines around the temple grounds. If you do, don't forget to repeat the same bowing and clapping sequence above at each one. Finally, when you're done visiting the shrines, it's time to visit the Kameishi stone.
5. Bow once more when leaving
After saying your prayers, take one bow before passing through the torii gate when leaving Nonomiya Shrine.
The Wishes and Highlights of Nonomiya Shrine
With so many deities enshrined here, plus the beautiful scenery of the bamboo forest, Nonomiya Shrine is bursting with power! As you pray at each small shrine, check out all the other spots and attractions for a real energy boost!
Kuroki no Torii
When most people think of torii gates, they probably imagine their bright vermilion color. However, the first torii gate ever built was not vermilion but used kuroki, or unbarked lumber. Kuroki was once used to build torii all over Japan, but that practice gradually disappeared due to the difficulty of obtaining and preserving the raw timber. Today, this gate in Nonomiya Shrine is the only kuroki torii left in Japan.
Its appearance is much different than that of the vermilion torii. It blends in so perfectly with the surrounding nature, the authentic atmosphere will make you feel as if you've stepped back in time.
The moss that grows in this little garden is so packed together, it looks like a carpet extending all the way to the back of Nonomiya Shrine. The moss here is said to be the richest and most beautiful in Kyoto and appears even more lively after the rain.
You'll be able to see a wooden bridge to the far left. That is Togetsukyo Bridge, a symbol of Arashiyama, located in the center of the city. This garden is a place of both simplicity and abundance.
Prayers for a Blissful Love
Nonomiya Shrine is famous as a shrine for fulfilling romance. Why not pay a visit and make a wish for your own happily-ever-after?
First, pick up an 'ema,' a wooden plaque on which you'll write your wish, for 1,000 yen. On the blank back side, write down your own prayers for a happy romance. You should also write down the date of your visit and your name (just initials are okay if you don't want to write your full name).
When you're done writing, hang your plaque on the 'ema kakedokoro' (place for hanging plaques). Then wish really hard for the relationship you want with the person you care about! You can also bring the plaque back with you if you want, but be careful - if you don't hang it and dedicate your wish, it may not come true!
One of the most fun things to do at a shrine is to draw an omikuji, or fortune slip! Nonomiya Shrine has an omikuji box for this. Put a 100 yen coin into the slot at the top, and draw an omikuji slip from the bottom.
Today's fortune is 'suekichi,' which means blessings are to come! I wonder what kind of blessing await! Fortunes are written out plainly, such as, "fall will be better than spring," or "your wish is delayed but still granted." So gather your courage, and draw a fortune for yourself!
Of course, you can take your omikuji home with you. However, if you received a bad or unlucky fortune, you may not want to! Instead, you can tie it anywhere around the shrine, and ask for new protection.
Misogi-barai Purification Ritual
If there is something worrisome on your mind, you may want to try 'misogibarai,' a purification ritual. Misogibarai is the act of purifying sin and impurities by releasing them in water. You can do this at the place on the left side of the Nonomiya Shrine.
First, receive a misogibarai prayer slip from the office for 300 yen. On this form, write down what you wish to release - whether it's a person you want to leave, a job or habit you want to quit, or anything at all you wish to purify yourself from.
Float the paper on the water, and gently place a coin on top. With that, your prayer is complete. All that's left is to await the response of the gods!
At the little office to the right of the entrance, you can buy some colorful amulets.
Amulets are considered sacred things where the spirit of the gods dwell. Many people keep their amulets on them at all times, such as in their bag or wallet. If you don't want to carry it around, then you should place it in a bright place above eye level. Nonomiya Shrine's ring amulets are tied to a strap and easy to carry around!
Make Your Dreams Come True at Nonomiya Shrine!
Nonomiya Shrine, hidden away in the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, is a beautiful spot that retains the magic of an ancient Japanese shrine. Surrounded by the lush leaves of the bamboo grove, it is a cool oasis in the middle of the hot summer surroundings.
Come here and make a wish for whatever your heart desires - be it love, children, or success in your studies or business. Or test your luck by drawing a fortune! If you're visiting Arashiyama, you won't want to miss out on Nonomiya Shrine. With its beautiful natural scenery and peaceful atmosphere, your newly revitalized mind will thank you!
Written by WESTPLAN
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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