First visit of the year to Kokuzō Shrine

We got some snow and very low temperatures lately in Aso. But traditions are important and that is why I went to celebrate new year with my family by visiting a shrine. The first visit to a Shinto shrine in Japan is called Hatsumōde and we chose, like last year, to go to Kokuzō shrine.  



With the pandemic still going on, Kokuzō Shrine was a good choice. As you can see on the pictures, we were the only people there during our entire visit. The decorations for new year were set and it snowed a little just before which gave the place a very nice atmosphere.



The torii that marks the entrance of the sacred ground is followed by a long alley with traditional stone lanterns on the side. Then there is a little bridge that leads to the Chōzuya where you wash your hands and mouth to purify yourself before praying to the gods. The shrine itself is situated a little further after climbing some stone steps.



But the visit is not over after the prayer. There is a path on the right of the shrine’s main building leading to the Teno Japanese Cedar (Teno being the name of the district where the shrine stands). Unfortunately, this huge tree was taken down by a strong typhoon in 1991. But parts of the tree are still preserved on site. To give you an idea of how big the tree was, you can check the picture bellow where my three years old daughter is standing in front of the trunk.



If you are into ancient Japanese history, you can also visit the Kamiokura kofun that is situated only 20 meters away from the shrine. Please note that it is possible to go inside the ancient tomb which is very rare in Japan. A lighting system is even available at the entrance for you to be able to have good look at the inside.



Finally, here are some pictures from around the shrine including a frozen wheel!



If you have questions, please ask us on our English Facebook page!

See you soon in Aso!

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