Explore Japanese Sacred World, and Enjoy Flowers and Festivals. - Kibitsu Shrine -
Kibitsu Shrine enshrines Kibitsuhiko no mikoto, the model of Momotaro, or Peach-boy, attended by a dog, a monkey and a pheasant, as the main deity. He is described as the hero in an ogre extermination legend. There are no literal materials which show when it was founded. The main hall and the worship hall were reconstructed around 600 years ago over a period of 25 years. The elegant and unique hip-and-gable roof of the main hall is known as Kibitsu-zukuri style or Hiyoku-irimoya-zukuri style. The main hall is designated as a National Treasure in Japan along with the worship hall in front of it. It is also famous for its stunning corridor with a length of 398 meters, or 1,306 feet.
Plum and cherry trees, hydrangeas, camellias and tree peonies are planted along the corridor. These flowers gladden visitors' eyes. Particularly in the season of hydrangea bloom, mid-June to early July, it is crowded with visitors, including kindergarteners.
It had a traditional event that followers, called ujiko, made rice cakes by pounding steamed rice in a large mortar with a pestle, accompanied by the beat of Japanese drums and the sound of shamisen, or long three stringed banjo-like instruments played with a plectrum, when the large roof was renewed every 50 to 60 years. The event is named Kibitsu no Shamisen Mochitsuki. Since 1973, it has been performed in the square beside the main hall on the first three days of the new year. In the morning of January 3, it also holds the event at which archers shoot their arrows to each direction high into the sky to pray for universal peace, the security of the nation and rich harvest, called Yatate no Shinji.
Annual Spring Festival is held to offer locally sourced delicacies to the shrine that is the supreme shrine in the Province on the second Sunday of May, and Annual Autumn Festival on the second Sunday of October. A hundred and some dozens of followers called ujiko, following Shinto priests, walk up the long corridor solemnly in two lines, making an impressive scene. The representatives, in order, offer delicacies, which they themselves have prepared for Kibitsuhiko no mikoto and arranged on 75 small individual dining tables painted with black lacquer.
Legend says Eisai(1141-1215), who is the founder of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism, was born as a son of a Shinto priest of Kibitsu Shrine. He contributed greatly to the spread of Zen principles and tea culture in Japan after coming back from Southern Song China. A large stone monument in the shape of a green tea ceremony cup has been erected at the remains of his birthplace.
Getting here: 5 minutes on foot from Kibitsu Station on JR Momotaro Line (JR Kibi Line)