Amano-iwato Jinja

Getty Images/Flickr RM


Top choice in Kyūshū

One of Shintō's loveliest shrines honours the cave where the goddess Amaterasu hid. The cave itself is off-limits, but Nishi Hongū (the shrine's main building) sits right across the Iwato-gawa. Ask a staff member to show you the viewpoint behind the honden (main hall). Local 'Fureai' buses leave approximately hourly (¥300, 20 minutes) from Takachiho's Miyakō bus centre.

An approximately 10-minute walk beside a picturesque stream takes you to Ama-no-Yasukawara, a deep cave where tradition says that thousands of other deities discussed how to lure Amaterasu from the cave. Modern-day visitors have left innumerable ishizumi (stacks of stones) in tribute, imparting a sort of Indiana Jones feeling.

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