Near Oshima Harbor on the southern side of the island is a torii gate that stands near the sea, indicating the deep connection between Nakatsu-miya and the sea.
The Amanogawa River ("Milky Way") flows within the shrine's precincts.
On each bank of the river is a small shrine: one is called Kengyu-sha and the other is Shokujo-sha.
According to a Japanese legend, Kengyu and Shokujo (the stars Altair and Vega) are lovers, but their residences are separated by the Amanogawa River.
The lovers are allowed to meet only once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar.
On that day (August 7 in the Gregorian calendar), the Star Festival is observed at Nakatsu-miya; it is the largest of the shrine's festivals.
In the past, there was a custom that before the festival day men and women gathered at Kengyu-sha and Shokujo-sha, respectively.
They drew river water in tubs and studied the images reflected in the water to determine whom their partners would be.
This custom is believed to have originated during the Kamakura period (1192–1333). After passing under a torii gate and ascending the steep stone steps, visitors glimpse the shrine buildings of Nakatsu-miya.
Its Main Hall has been designated as a Tangible Cultural Property of Fukuoka Prefecture.
Adjacent to the Main Hall are several subordinate shrines, which have been relocated from various places on the island.
Visitors who take the path beside the shrine office that leads to the Amanogawa River will find the Ama-no-manai spring.
According to the Kojiki and Nihon shoki (Japan's oldest historical records, compiled in the early 8th century), the sun goddess Amaterasu once broke her younger brother's sword into three pieces, purified them with the sacred water of the spring, chewed them in her mouth, and then blew them out with her breath.
From her breath emerged the three female kami of Munakata.
Fresh cold water gushes from the spring throughout the year, and is believed to grant longevity and happiness.
Many children visit the spring to draw water since it is also believed that use of the water in Indian ink helps improve one's calligraphic skills.
Nine-minute walk from Nakatsu-miya
Five-minute walk from Nakatsu-miya
Twenty-minute walk from Nakatsu-miya
|Munakata Taisha Shrine Office||
2331 Tashima, Munakata, Fukuoka 811-3505
|Munakata City Office for World Heritage Nomination||
1-1-1 Togo, Munakata, Fukuoka 811-3492