Togakushi Shrine - Five Shrines Tour
The Stratums of Faith
In winter, the Togakushi area is covered with snow. Even when there’s no snow just 20 kilometers away at Zenkō-ji Temple, Togakushi can transform into a snowscape.
Lots of snow also means lots of water. This is because fallen snow turns into a natural dam. In fact, life in Togakushi is heavily dependent on this water, and even the ancient deity of this land, the Kuzuryū, is worshiped as the god of water.
The abundance of water can be attributed to Togakushi being built on layers of soil from different geological eras. Mt. Togakushi is made of hard strata sedimented in the sea, and Mt. Īzuna was formed by a volcanic eruption. The stratum has served as a natural filtration system, bringing clear and delicious water to the town.
A complex overlap of different layers is a symbol of Togakushi. Nowadays, Togakushi’s belief is centered around the legend of Amano-Iwato, when the goddess Amaterasu hid in a cave and plunged the world into darkness. If we unravel history, we’ll find that many tales and anecdotes passed down among the people overlap with each other such as the belief in the god of water, Kuzuryū, or a Shugendō anecdote about gaining enlightenment through an ascetic practice on steep mountains. If we examine each one, they may not make sense. However, Togakushi still encompasses that and remains the object of worship.
Currently, the center of belief in Togakushi is Togakushi Shrine which consists of sub-shrines Hōkō-sha, Hinomiko-sha, Chū-sha, Kuzuryū-sha, and Oku-sha. Here, while visiting the five shrines, we would like to connect with the spirit of Togakushi that birthed many beliefs and much folklore.