Kumano Hongu Taisha is a Shinto Shrine, and is
one of the Three Grand Shrines of Kumano ("Kumano Sanzan" in Japanese).
It is in the mountain located about 30 km northwest of Kumano Hayatama Taisha shrine in the central Shingu city.
It is a part of "Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain
Range" designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
(See the page of Kumano Kodo.)
It is said that it was founded in 33.B.C. in legend. It is hard to
believe, and some say that this shrine was founded around the 3-4th
centuries in fact.
At any rate, this is the oldest shrine among three ones of Kumano Sanzan.
The shrine is in the valley formed by Kumano River.
It in on the slope of the mountain, but the original shrine was on a sandbar along the river.
Since the late 19th century when Japan was developing for the
construction of a modern nation, many trees around this mountains had
So this shrine were washed away by a flood in 1889 for the first time in its history.
After that, the shrine was moved to the current place.
In the precincts, four shines are set up. And each shrine enshrines
both a god of Shinto and a Buddha statue.
Eight other shrines were in the original shrine. Now they are set up in two small shrine there.
The original shrine is called "Ooyunohara".
To take photos of these shrines, we must make reservations.
When you visit this shrine, you may find the mark of crow with three
It is called "Yatagarasu" in Japanese.
In Japanese myth, when the first Emperor marched to create a new human state from Kumano to Asuka in 660 B.C., Yatagarasu led him to reach there through the deep mountains.
So it became the symbol of Kumano area.
Incidentally, the mark of Yatagarasu has been used as the symbol of Japan Football Association since 1931, and we can find the mark on the uniform of Japan national football team.
Photo by Fuukei Shashin Kabegami