The picturesque Atsuta Shrine is one of Japan’s most sacred sites. It is a great place to relax in serene wooded surroundings, observe traditional ceremonies and admire architecture and historic relics.
Scholars believe that the original Atsuta Shrine was constructed under the rule of Emperor Keiko, during the first or second century. Over the years, the shrine has undergone numerous renovations and the various sections of the building reflect the architectural styles of the periods in which they were built. Much of the shrine was destroyed by fire during World War II, but extensive restoration has restored the shrine to its former splendour.
Today, Atsuta Shrine is still used for religious practices. Over the course of a year, roughly 9 million people visit the shrine, and at peak periods the shrine can be quite crowded. Watch traditional ceremonies, which are held at the shrine on certain days throughout the year. Ceremonies include Bugaku Shinki, a dance performed in the courtyard of the shrine during May, and Hatsu-Ebisu, a good-luck New Year’s ritual.
Visitors can see some of Japan’s finest relics in the Bunkaden, or treasure hall. The hall contains furniture, utensils, traditional outfits and swords from the ancient period. Be sure to get a close look at the elaborate designs on the Bugaku masks, which are worn during dance rituals. The shrine is also said to house one of the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, the ancient sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi, but the sword is not accessible for public viewing.
After exploring the shrine, wander through the surrounding woodland park. Visit the restaurant within the park and order a bowl of kishimen noodles, a local delicacy.
Atsuta Shrine, which is situated outside central Nagoya, is free to visit and is open daily. Take the train to the Jingu-mae Station, which is only a short walk away from Atsuta Shrine. There is also metered parking for those who wish to drive.