Date: 22nd November 2018
According to the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters), the oldest historical record of Japan, Awajishima (淡路島) is said to be the first island born during the kuniumi (creation of Japan) by the gods Izanagi and Izanami. The Izanagi Shrine (伊弉諾神宮) on the island is dedicated to both gods, and is said to be the oldest shrine in Japan.
Izanagi was said to have retired in Taga of Oumi in Awajishima after completing his heavenly duties of creating the country, handing over his duties to Amaterasu, one of his daughters.
Awajishima is also said to be the centre of Japan (in case you think this contradicts my Ikushima-Tarushima Jinja post, the “centre” it meant for both shrines is different), due to its location in the centre of the winter and summer solstice lines. Read more about this theory on Green Shinto’s page.
Izanagi Shrine was also the ichinomiya of the Awaji Province, which meant that it was the highest rank Shinto Shrine in the province. In the Shakaku shrine ranking, it was ranked as a kanpei-sha (imperial shrine) of the 1st rank along with 66 other shrines.
The structures in the shrine today mostly dated back to the Meiji era in the exception of two gates which were of the 17th century.
There is a 900-year old camphor tree here called Meoto-ookusu (husband and wife giant camphor tree) which used to be two separate trees which eventually joined together, leading people to pray here for a happy marriage.
There is a little pond garden on the shrine grounds featuring a little red bridge, a pond shrine and a tortoise stone statue.
If you are interested in the creation myth of Japan, consider visiting other sites in Awajishima related to kuniumi – Onokorojima Shrine, Eshima and Nushima. I did not get to include these in my itinerary but I would definitely visit them in my next return to Awajishima.
Always open, Free admission
The Awaji Kotsu Bus Nishiura-Ichinomiya Line stops at Izanagijingumae Bus Stop which is just 3 minutes on foot to the shrine. The bus runs 8 times a day and the schedule is also available via Google Maps. If you are taking the bus, the bus route’s last stop is the Nojima Fault Preservation Museum, the fault responsible for the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.
- 50 minutes from Akashi
- 30 minutes from Sumoto Bus Terminal
- 50 minutes from Naruto