Translated by Jelena Kitamura
Munakata Taisha In Fukuoka - A Shrine Dedicated To Travel Safety
At Munakata Taisha in Fukuoka, which is a revered shrine with a long history, you can find peculiar charms for protection during one's travels. If you have a deep wish, It is well worth addressing it to the deities of this shrine.
Written by Norihisa Hasegawa
If you yearn to have a wish come true, don’t hesitate to look for help at a Shinto shrine. It is believed that Shinto gods deities will listen to any plea, be it business-related, love-related, or something else.
When facing travel troubles, this shrine just might answer your prayers! We would like to suggest a place for you to visit while on a journey to Fukuoka prefecture – Munakata Taisha, or the great shrine Munakata, located in Munakata City.
It might be hard to believe, but this magnificent shrine made an appearance in the oldest written book in Japan – yes, you’ll find it in “that very” Kojiki. Ever since the olden days, it has been referred to as the shrine dedicated to safe traveling.
This is Munakata Taisha!
The three daughters of Amaterasu Oomikami (one of the most celebrated and important gods in Shintoism) are said to be enshrined in Munakata Taisha.
Actually, to be precise, each of the three goddesses is enshrined at a different part of Munakata Taisha – Okitsugu, Nakatsugu, and Hetsugu. The name Munakata Taisha refers to all of the three shrines together.
It is said that originally, this shrine protected sailors while sailing on their voyages. With the spread of the automobiles and other transportation vehicles, people started praying for the traffic safety here too, regardless of the transportation means – thus, Munakata Taisha became known as the protector of safety during any type of travel and transportation. The word has spread even to the people outside Japan, so this shrine is often visited by many people from various countries.
Lead the Way to Hetsugu!
First, we would like to introduce to you Hetsugu’s honden (the main building where the deity is enshrined).
The reason for that lies in the location of Okitsugu and Nakatsugu – they may be a bit difficult to reach as they are situated on the islands. So in order to visit all three of the shrines of Munakata Taisha, one would have to cross the sea to get to the designated places, which could be quite a challenging adventure. That is why you’ll find another two shrines on the grounds of Hetsugu that are supposed to represent the difficult-to-reach Okitsugu and Nakatsugu.
Those replacement shrines each have their own name – Niku and Sanku.
Now, if you’re interested in visiting Niku and Sanku, follow the Takamiya path you’ll find near the honden. It is a lovely and tranquil path with lots of greenery and trees along the way, so you ought to enjoy your five minute walk to the two shrines.
It’d be a pity for those who aren’t able to pay a visit to the original shrines to miss the chance to see their replicas – the one on the right is Niku, while the left shrine is Sanku.
Munakata Taisha’s Sacred Ceremony Site Takamiya
The place that is said to be the most sacred one when it comes to Munakata Taisha, and the one we’d definitely like you to witness in person, is the Takamiya Saijo (Takamiya ceremony site).
Unfortunately, most of the time, it is guarded with a fence so that no one can enter.
It might seem like a perfectly ordinary (open) space at first sight, but wait until you hear the legend of it! It is believed that at that very place once danced the god of Munakata Taisha! Actually, many different religious ceremonies and rituals were held at the spot where now stands the shrine of Munakata Taisha.
The same rituals are being held each October in this very place nowadays as well, and that is the only time when outsiders (visitors to the shrine) are allowed to enter the sacred ceremonial site of Takamiya.
Warifumamori for a Perfect Souvenir!
If you noticed the tiny wooden plates hung up on the side of Takamiya ceremonial site, you might have gotten some idea as to what those are. Nonetheless, you might also get slightly surprised when you hear about them in more detail – those are called warifumamori, and they are a type of a Shinto lucky charm!
There are two separate wooden plates that are bound together to form a wooden charm.
But, what makes them truly exceptional is their peculiar use! First, you have to write down your name and the age on the front, after which you should write the wish you’d like to see granted on the back of the lucky charm. And then, the magical spell – break the charm into two pieces (separate the two halves), so that one of the halves remains at the shrine, and the other you should put on your bag or somewhere else to accompany you wherever you go! Now that we think about it, it just ought to work out well as you’ve entrusted your wish with the deity, and left one of the halves as a “reminder”! What do you think?
It is an extraordinary type of omamori (Shinto lucky charm) which you won’t be able to find anywhere else. You can get it for your loved ones as a unique souvenir, or for yourself to pray for your safe trip – either way, it will make for a delightful and meaningful memento for sure!
Leave Your Love Wishes With the Twin Oak
On your way back to honden from the ceremonial site of Takamiya, one fascinating sight might steal your attention. Behold the twin oak tree!
No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you – those really are two tree trunks that gradually became one as they grew taller.
As charming and miraculous as it sounds, it does kind of remind of a couple becoming one upon entering into marriage, which is why this tree is said to bring good fortune to married couples and strengthen the bond between the lovers.
We believe that many of visitors to Japan, or those interested in this country, have heard about the delicious food Fukuoka prefecture is famous for, such as various types of ramen, delicious tarako (walleye pollack roe), and many other irresistible dishes. But now that you’ve heard the story of Munakata Taisha, how about paying it a visit while traveling to Fukuoka, and entrust your exciting and safe travels with the gods of this unique shrine?
Munakata Taisha is not very difficult to reach either – just take the bus departing from Fukuoka’s shopping district Tenjin, and enjoy the sights along the ride to Munakata-Taisha-Mae bus stop, and after visiting the shrine, all of your further rides and trips should continue in a safe and a pleasant manner!
Address: Fukuoka, Munakata, Tajima 2331
Visiting Hours: from 09:00 until 17:00
Fixed Holidays: None
Available Credit Cards: None
Menus/Pamphlets in Other Languages: None
Nearest Station: JR Togo Station
Access: about 60 minutes by Nishitetsu bus from Tenjin-Nichigin-Mae bus stop to Munakata-Taisha-Mae bus stop; about 12 minutes by bus bound for Kono-Minato-Hatoba (via Munakata Taisha) from JR Togo Station to Munakata-Taisha-Mae bus stop
Phone Number: 0940-62-1311
Website: Munakata Taisha (Japanese)