Date: 30th June 2018
On my way back from Bessho Onsen on the Ueda Dentetsu Line, I alighted at Shimonogo Station to explore Ikushima-Tarushima Jinja (生島足島神社), said to be in the geographical center of Japan. The shrine worships Ikushima-no-okami, the Shinto God of Fertility and Vitality, and Tarushima-no-okami, the Shinto God of Fulfilment since the 9th century. It is also said that this shrine houses the souls of the entire of Japan.
Ikushima-Tarushima Jinja is easily recognizable by its vermillion coloured architectures, and the lake surrounding the shrine. The Honden (main shrine) is located on a small island surrounded by a pond “kami-ike”, and boasts one of the oldest architectural styles in Japan. Behind the shrine is the inner shrine, constructed during the Muromachi period and enshrines the earthen ground as its deity (goshintai).
There is a pair of 800-year old Zelkova trees in the shrine grounds, called “husband and wife trees”, where married couples pray to for happy marital relationship and fertility.
Ikushima-Tarushima Jinja is a popular shrine for a number of ceremonies, so be sure to check out their official website for closing times to accommodate to these ceremonies.
Always Open, except during ceremonies (check the official website for details)
Ikushima-Tarushima Jinja is a 5-mins, 400m walk from Shimonogo Station on the Ueda Dentetsu Line. Shimonogo Station is a 15 mins, 370 yen ride on the Ueda Dentetsu Line from Ueda Station. Check timings in advance as there are only about 2 departures per hour.