Translated by Hilary Keyes
Udo-jingū, Miyazaki - Test Your Luck At This Cavern Shrine!
Written by Norihisa Hasegawa
There are many shrines with incredible scenery throughout Japan. Udo Shrine in Miyazaki is famous for granting luck in love, childbirth and for its hard-to-do offerings!
On an island nation like Japan, it's not unusual for shrines to be built along beaches, such as at Motonosumi Inari Shrine in Yamaguchi prefecture.
Today, let's visit Miyazaki prefecture where you will find Udo-jingū, or Udo Shrine, with its superb scenic views and original customs.
What is Udo-jingū?
Udo-jingū is found in the south of Miyazaki prefecture in Nichinan city, but it is unknown when exactly it was built. Of the deities enshrined here, one of the most popular is the god of good connections and of easy childbirth and delivery, which draws visitors to the shrine not only from Miyazaki but from all across Japan.
Along the road approaching the shrine, the combination of the vermilion shrine fences and gates, the blue ocean and the green of the palm trees is spectacular; please enjoy these sights while you visit the main shrine building. The road to the main shrine itself suddenly turns into a slope and stairs, so it is a good idea to wear comfortable walking shoes when visiting Udo-jingū.
Mysterious Shrine in a Grotto
It takes approximately 10 minutes to reach the last staircase from the parking lot on the cliff above. From this vantage point one can enjoy a stunning view of the ocean scenery.
At last we have arrived to pay our respects at the main shrine in the cavern. The air in this area is much cooler than that up above; this shrine is rather chilly even on summer days. You can really feel the mystical air that this shrine possesses just by standing here.
You are allowed to come quite close to the main shrine building of Udo-jingū, a point that is highly unusual for Japanese shrines in general. By all means take this rare opportunity to have a closer look at the details of Japanese shrine architecture.
As you can walk around the full circumference of the shrine building, after making your prayer, why not walk to the other side to see what it is like? Here you will find the O-Chichi-iwa, or the Breast Stone. Water trickles down from this stone and is collected and used to make O-Chichi-ame (300 yen), which are a kind of taffy. The water from this stone has long been believed to help mothers produce milk more easily, thus making it a popular souvenir for new or expecting mothers.
Wish as you Throw Untamamori!
Once you have seen all of the main shrine, head over to the side and take a look down at the rocks and ocean below. Here you can see a turtle-shaped rock with a sacred straw rope around it. Think of this rope as acting like a guide.
The tradition at Udo-jingū says that if you can throw a stone into this hole inside the sacred rope, known as Undama, your wish will come true. There are rules however: men must throw with their left hand, women with their right. It sounds simple, but the rock is rather far from the cliff, making this a pretty hard throw to make!
This is the Untamamori. From the main shrine you can purchase these small clay tablets, 5 for 100 yen,so you should really give this unique experience a try! The Japanese character inscribed on it is "un" 運, meaning "good luck".
When we visited, a couple were giving it their all, and it took 2 or 3 tries for them to have any luck.
Rent a Car to Visit Udo-jingū
If you want to visit Udo-jingū, we strongly recommend renting a car and driving to see it. To reach this amazing shrine with its spectacular views takes anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half by prefectural bus of which only a few run every hour, making it almost impossible to visit both Udo-jingū and other sightseeing spots via public transportation.
If you can, you really must go for a drive along the coast in Miyazaki. On the way, you will find Aoshima Shrine, and Moai statues at Sun Messe Nichinan (Japanese), and other wonderful sightseeing spots.
Wouldn't be great to see all these sights in person and try throwing the Untamamori charm for yourself? Even if you miss getting it in the Undama, you can make your wish on the large stone carved with the character for luck, un, on the road near the shrine. Taking a drive on a sunny day to see Udo-jingū in Miyazaki prefecture sounds like the perfect way to spend a holiday.
For more on Kyushu and exciting shrines:
5 Great Ways To Experience Japan’s Culture, Fukuoka-style!
How To Get Around Fukuoka City! 4 Means of Transportation +1
Sightsee With Ease: Take the Street Car In Nagasaki
The Internationally Famous Yūtoku Inari Shrine in Saga Prefecture
Hardest Shrine To Make An Offering At: Motonosumi Inari Shrine
Address: Miyazaki, Nichinan, Miyaura 3232
Hours: April-Sept 6:00-19:00, Oct-March 7:00-18:00
Credit Cards: -
Other Languages: -
Pamphlets in Other Languages: English, Chinese, Korean
Nearest Station: Udo-jingū Bus stop (鵜戸神宮)
Access: Take any Miyakō City Bus/Miyazaki Airport Bus heading to Airport/Nichinan (空港・日南行), Obi (飫肥行) or Airport/Toimisaki (空港・都井岬行) for about 1 hour, get off at Udo-jingū bus stop and walk for 10 minutes.
Phone Number: 0987-29-1001
Website: Udo-jingū (Japanese)