Translated by Hilary Keyes
Motonosumi Inari Shrine - The Hardest Shrine To Make An Offering At
Written by Norihisa Hasegawa
Motonosumi Inari Shrine has the hardest to reach offertory box in all of Japan and was featured on CNN's "Japan's 31 Most Beautiful Places".
The standard practice at all Japanese shrines is to place a few coins in the saisenbako or offertory box before praying. At the majority of shrines, you typically toss your offering of coins into the box and that's that, but there are also shrines where you practically pay to have your troubles taken away.
We visited Motonosumi Inari Shrine where, along with its internationally known superb scenery, you have to work in order to have your wish granted.
Read also: How To Pay A Visit To A Shinto Shrine
What is Motonosumi Inari Shrine?
Motonosumi Inari Shrine is located in picturesque Nagato city, Yamaguchi prefecture, a place well known for its abundant natural scenery, mountains and ocean views. This shrine was constructed in 1955. A fisherman in the region had a dream wherein he encountered a white fox that said "If you deify me in a shrine, I will bring good luck to this area", and believing this to be a divine message, did just that.
It is believed that this white fox spirit came from Taikodani Inari Shrine in Shimane prefecture as a bunrei (*1). And now there are many other gods enshrined here as well including those that ensure prosperity in business, better luck and warding off evil, traffic safety and more.
Let's look at the highlights of Motonosumi Inari Shrine in order.
*1 Bunrei: the divided spirit of a shrine's deity; the spirit is said to divide itself in order to share its blessing power with another shrine.
1. The Torii Tunnel
One of the first things you will notice about this shrine is its distinctive red torii gate tunnel. Having taken 10 years to complete, this tunnel of 123 individual torii gates is a wondrous sight to behold as you make your way along the pathway within.
2. Globally Recognized Scenery
As you ascend up the torii pathway, take a moment to turn around and see the sight behind you. Looking away from the hill before you, the contrast of the brilliant vermilion torii and the blue sea is a deeply moving sight.
This particular view in fact, was featured on the American CNN News "Japan's 31 Most Beautiful Places" segment.
3. Unique Offertory Box
At the last torii by the exit, you will find visitors lined up and looking up at the top of the torii.
The superb view isn't the only thing that draws people to Motonosumi Inari Shrine. The offertory box found here is unlike those at other shrines and it has become a famous spot of its own.
At the majority of shrines, the offertory box is long, quite large and low to the ground; here, you will notice two major differences with the saisenbako.
Have your coins ready, look up and face the torii, think positively and will your coins to land inside the box.
This offertory box is much smaller than the typical saisenbako, and the torii it rests on stands 5 meters tall. It's no wonder that this is the hardest shrine to make an offering at in Japan! Because of this, it's believed that if your coin does land inside, your wish or prayer is sure to come true. You might feel overwhelmed if your coin does make it, as the other visitors often clap and cheer for you. Just don't focus too hard on your throw and forget to make your wish!
Unfortunately, Motonosumi Inari Shrine is somewhat difficult to reach via bus or train; it is best to travel to this shrine by taxi, rental car or your own car.
When visiting Yamaguchi prefecture, please make your way to Motonosumi Inari Shrine with its astounding natural scenery and try your hand at making an offering at this marvelously unique shrine!
Motonosumi Inari Shrine
Address: Yamaguchi, Nagato, Yuyatsuo 498
Credit Cards: -
Other Languages: None
Nearest Station: Nagatofuruichi Station (JR 長門古市駅), Sanin Main Line
Access: 20 minutes by taxi from Nagatofuruichi station or or 60 minutes from the Mine Interchange on the Chūgoku Expressway
Phone Number: 0837-22-84 (Nagato City Sightseeing Convention Association)