Cathy Cawood

Fuji Omuro-Sengen Shrine

The oldest shrine of Mount Fuji

Cathy Cawood
Cathy Cawood   - 5 min read

You can find over 1000 Fuji Sengen Shrines throughout Japan, dedicated to the Shinto deity of Mount Fuji, Princess Konohanasakuya (goddess of cherry blossom). Although Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha in Fujinomiya is the head shrine, and Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine is the premium shrine on the North side of Mount Fuji, Fuji Omuro-Sengen Shrine in Kawaguchiko is the oldest.

<p>To dragons cling to an inscribed stone ball</p>
To dragons cling to an inscribed stone ball

A little history

First established in 699 A.D. The shrine was destroyed in the 800 A.D. Fuji eruption and was rebuilt by a samurai lord who attributed his victories in battle to the goddess. Unfortunately the shrine was burnt down and was rebuilt many times because of further Fuji eruptions.

The original location for the shrine was at the 2nd Station of Mount Fuji, and in 958 A.D. the reigning Emperor built a second shrine at the current location to make it more accessible to worshipers. In 1974 the main hall was relocated from the original location to the second location.

<p>Red shrine hall seen through the trees</p>
Red shrine hall seen through the trees

Important cultural properties

Three generations of the Takeda clan worshiped here, after Shingen Takeda’s father rebuilt the shrine in 1525. It preserves a number of valuable writings including a petition for his wife's easy labor during the birth of Takeda’s daughter, written by Takeda himself. There are also some valuable statues in the shrine.

<p>Statues at the shrine</p>
Statues at the shrine

Cherry blossom festival

Cherry trees must be essential at a shrine dedicated to the Goddess of Cherry Blossom. In spring, about 200 cherry trees transform Fuji Omuro-Sengen shrine into a vision of beauty, drawing many visitors. A festival is held on April 25th, with entertainment adding to the festive atmosphere, and stalls selling food and drink.

Yabusame Festival

Fuji Omuro-Sengen Shrine is famous for yabusame, horseback archery. Yabusame was first performed here in 940 A.D. to celebrate the successful suppression of a rebellion. These days a yabusame festival is held every year during Golden Week, on April 29th. Yabusame is exciting to watch, with riders in traditional Japanese costumes galloping along a track. They control their horses with their knees, and fire their arrows as they pass the targets.

<p>Arrow through a target reminds visitors of yabuasme&#39;s importance at this shrine</p>
Arrow through a target reminds visitors of yabuasme's importance at this shrine

How to get there

From Kawaguchiko Station, take the Saiko Sightseeing Bus (Lake Saiko/Aokigahara Circuit) to Fuji Omuro Sengen Shrine bus stop. The bus ride takes about 12 minutes. If you drive, the shrine is 10 minutes from Kawaguchiko IC on Chuo Expressway.

<p>Path flanked by lanterns and tall trees</p>
Path flanked by lanterns and tall trees
Cathy Cawood

Cathy Cawood @cathy.cawood

 I came to Japan in 2003 to teach English. I lived in Shiga prefecture for 1 year, and it still holds a special place in my heart. I lived in Kyoto for 9 years, then moved to Machida, Tokyo in 2014 after meeting my Japanese partner. I love to take photos, and my Japan in Pictures Facebook page ha...