Nakatsu-miya, Munakata Taisha—A Place for Daily Religious Practice

The island of Oshima, located 11 km from Konominato Harbor in Munakata City, is the largest island in Fukuoka Prefecture.
 The population of the island is around 700.Nakatsu-miya, one of the three shrines that comprise Munakata Taisha, is situated on this island. Nakatsu-miya enshrines Tagitsuhime-no-Kami, one of the Three Goddesses of Munakata.
Nakatsu-miya, Munakata Taisha
Nakatsu-miya, Munakata Taisha
Mt Mitakesan

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.

Nakatsu-miya Shrine Buildings

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.

Historic Sites

  • Yume-no-Sayoshima Islet

    Nine-minute walk from Nakatsu-miya

    Yume-no-Sayoshima Islet
    During the Muromachi Period (1333–1573), the poet Sogi (1421-1502) visited Munakata and composed a poem that was inspired by this small scenic islet.
  • Ansho-in

    Five-minute walk from Nakatsu-miya

    Ansho-in is the only Buddhist temple on Oshima. The stone monument within its precinct is believed to mark the tomb of Abe Muneto, a warrior who was exiled to Oshima after being defeated in the Former Nine Years War (1051–1062) . The temple commands a panoramic view of the island.
  • Mitake Shrine Mt Mitakesan Observation Deck

    Twenty-minute walk from Nakatsu-miya

    Mitake Shrine Mt Mitakesan Observation Deck
    Mitake Shrine was erected on an ancient ritual site, which later developed into the present shrine of Nakatsu-miya. From the observation deck atop Mt Mitakesan, visitors can view not only the main island of Kyushu, but also Okinoshima.

Guide map of Oshima

Download guide map

Contact Information

Munakata Taisha Shrine Office

2331 Tashima, Munakata, Fukuoka 811-3505

Tel+81 0940-62-1311

Fax+81 0940-62-1315

Munakata City Office for World Heritage Nomination

1-1-1 Togo, Munakata, Fukuoka 811-3492

Tel+81 0940-36-9456

Fax+81 0940-36-6912

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