Miyajidake is a large shinto shrine located in Fukutsu, about 25 minutes north of Fukuoka City. The shrine is especially known for having Japans largest Shimenawa rope, copper bell and Taiko drum. Additionally, due to it’s high location, there is a magnificent sunset view through the shrines torii gates.
The approach to Miyajidake shrine is a classic one full of small food stalls. In contrast to other popular shrines, like Dazaifu Tenmangu, the shops appear primarily to be mom and pop stores (small family run shops). It gives a much more authentic and charming feel to the street leading up to the shrine entrance. At the end of the street are two large torii gates through which a long set of stairs lead up to the shrine.
all photos above © touristinjapan.com.
At the top of the hill lies the beautiful shrine area. As you approach the main gate you should see the two small buildings for the giant bell and giant taiko drum, on the right side. The bell weighs an impressive 450kg (990lbs) and you can probably imagine what a loud noise this bell can generate. Opposite of the bell is the taiko drum which has a diameter of more than 2 meters (6.5ft). The drum is struck once per year, at midnight on January 1st, supposedly making a very loud sound which can be heard across much of the city.
As you enter the central area of the shrine you will immediately see the enormous Shimenawa rope hanging in front of the main building. A Shimenawa is a straw rope which is hung across or around an object which is considered considered to be inhabited by a spirit or thought to be an especially pure object. Often, the rope is also used to ward of evil. With a diameter of 2.6m. (8.5ft.), a length of 11m. (36ft) and a weight of 3 tons, Miyajidake claims that this is the largest Shimenawa in all of Japan. The title is disputed though, as Izumo-taisha shrine in Shimane Prefecture, claims the same record. Regardless of titles, it is an impressive sight, and even more impressive that volunteers make a new rope for the shrine every year!
All photos above © touristinjapan.com. Sunset photo © Ivan Bielik, used with permission.
It is highly recommended to time your visit so you can catch the sunset from the shrine. The sun sets beautifully between the torii gates, and from atop of the stairs you can see all the way to the ocean. Around sunset people gather here to take photographs, and the crowds can be quite big.
Hike around Miyajidake
Behind the shrine’s main building is a trail which leads up the nearby hill. Here is a very nice 1.5 hour / 2.4km hiking trail which takes you past 3 of the nearby hilltops. It’s a great way to enjoy the beautiful nature surrounding the shrine.
From Fukuoka: from Hakata Station, take the Kagoshima Line bound for Ebitsu or Mojiko. Get off at Fukuma Station (25min). At Fukuma Station take bus #5, 1-1 or 1-2, and get off at Miyajidake Jinja-mae (6min). The train is covered by the Japan Rail Pass, but the bus isn’t.