Located in the geographical center of Japan, Ikushima-Tarushima Jinja worships the Shinto Deities Ikushima-no-okami, the God of Fertility and Vitality and Tarushima-no-okami, the God of Fulfilment. The architectural style of the main shrine is one of the oldest in Japan, located on a small island surrounded by a pond.
Visiting the complex shrine of Lake Suwa, the Suwa Taisha or Suwa Grand Shrine, dating back to the late 7th century as indicated in the Kojiki. Enshrouded by conflicting myths surrounding its Kami, I was particularly fond of the ancient ambience of these shrines.
Often overlooked castle in Nagano prefecture, Takashima Castle proves to be a little special due to its brown exterior. Though the donjon, yagura and castle gates are reconstructions, a visit to this castle is recommended if you are visiting the Lake Suwa area.
Taking a trip back in time, learning about feudal Kai Province’s pride – Takeda Shingen while visiting the shrine dedicated to this famous daimyo, famously known as the Tiger of Kai – the Takeda Jinja.
Exploring the ruins of Kofu Castle in the Maizuru Castle Park and stumbling upon unexpectedly pretty hydrangeas.
Hearing the weep of a dragon at the temple which was used to store Buddhist statues from Nagano’s famous Zenkoji during the Sengoku Period. The highlight of this visit is the Kaidan Meguri experience to find the lock to the hidden main statue.
Quiet day at the Nyakuichioji Jinja in Omachi. In July, the shrine hosts the Nyakuichioji Jinja Reisai, a festival centering on kodomo yabusame (child horseback archery), which is rare in Japan.
An informative experience at the Chojiya Salt Road Museum, showcasing the life and materials from the Chikuni Kaido, the road used to transport salt from the sea of Japan to the old Shinano Province (now Nagano Prefecture).
Continuing my temples visit in Bessho Onsen, I visited Kitamuki Kannon, literally “Facing-North Kannon”, which is unusual as temples usually faces south. This Tendai sect. temple faces the Buddha statue in famous Zenkoji in Nagano directly and is popular as a love fulfillment spot.
Visiting Anraku-ji, the oldest Soto sect. of Zen Buddhism temple in Nagano which boost the only surviving octagonal pagoda in Japan. Located near Bessho Onsen, 30 minutes away from Ueda city, this temple deserves more attention for its history and links to Kencho-ji’s Rankei Doryu.
Hakuba in green season offers a plethora of outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, mountain-biking and more. I hiked to Happo-ike or Happo Pond on this clear weather to see the beautiful pond with the reflection of the Hakuba Sanzan – Mt. Shakushi, Mt. Yari, and Mt. Shirouma.