Sightseeing in Chichibu: The "Power Spot" Mitsumine Shrine (三峰神社) - Vikingess Voyages

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sightseeing in Chichibu: The "Power Spot" Mitsumine Shrine (三峰神社)

Just a couple of hours by train from Tokyo lies the historic little village Chichibu (秩父). Referred to by some people (especially if you talk to locals) as “Kanto's Tibet” this place holds an interesting history reaching back more than 2000 years. One of Chichibu’s most famous tourist spots is the Mitsumine Shrine (三峰神社), which is hidden far away up in the mountains behind Chichibu.

On the bus to Mitsumine Shrine
As the Mitsumine Shrine is located far from the beaten path the trip there can be slightly complicated. The bus from Seibu Chichi Station (西武秩父駅) will take you directly to the shrine in 75 minutes, but it departs only a few times a day, so you’d have to time the trip well. Even if you take the train to Mitsumine-guchi, the closest train station to the shrine, it would still take 45 minutes by taxi to get there. As the buses leave early in the morning it would be advisable to combine the trip with a stay at a traditional Japanese ryokan hotel in Chichibu (we stayed at the Heritage Minoyama Ryokan, which I've written about here).

Entrance to the Mitsumine Shrine area. Notice the rare 3-gated Torii, 三ツ鳥居.

The Mitsumine shrine is said to have been founded by the legendary Yamato Takeru (日本武尊), son of Japan’s 12th emperor Keikou and a hero mentioned in the ancient Japanese chronicles Kojiki and Nihon Shoki. It is said that Yamato Takeru first discovered this place and established a shrine here during a journey to the Usui Pass between Nagano and Gunma. Throughout history it has been used as a place for pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment through the worshiping of the mountains, and in particular through a religious style called Shugendou (修験道).
A wolf statue guarding the entrance to Mitsumine shrine
One peculiar thing about the Mitsumine shrine is that while there are many Japanese shrines dedicated to foxes this shrine instead is filled with statues of wolves. According to the legend about Yamato Takeru he met a white wolf when he got lost in the forest in this area, and the wolf helped him safely cross the mountains as it guided him with its howls. It is said that as a token of his appreciation he named the wolf Ookuchi Magami (おおぐちまかみ / 大口真神), literarily "big mouth true god". This name was later abbreviated to ookami (大口真神), "big god", and is now used as the Japanese word for wolf (but written with the kanji 狼).

In recent years Mitsumine Jinja has been featured in a number of TV shows and dramas, and has become famous as a "power spot" that holds a spiritual and mystical energy. During high season (between spring and autumn) you can expect a lot of Japanese visitors at the shrine. 

Here are some of my pictures from the shrine area:

A statue of the legendary Yamato Takeru (日本武尊) inside the shrine area 
The main shrine building - Mitsumine Jinja
A visit to the Mitsumine Shrine is supposed to have the following effects:

 ・Brings good luck to people that have clear goals and a strong will
 ・Gives the power to get over loneliness or difficulties
 ・Provides a purification of the mind and body,
increased vitality and resilience

Before heading back down to Chichibu you can take a minute to touch the holy tree in front of Mitsumine Jinja. In Japanese this tree is known as a shinboku (ご神木) - sacred tree.
The tree to the right of the shrine is supposed to bring luck. You can see to shrine visitors praying by the root of the tree
My impression was that the Mitsumine shrine was a lot more colourful than most Japanese shrines I've been to so far (it actually reminded me more about the temples I visited during my stay in Korea). The shrine is situated in really beautiful surroundings, so it's tempting to visit again by hiking from the center of Chichibu.

It is apparently possible to do a temple stay at the Mitsumine shrine, and they even have an onsen there called "the hot spring of the god of Mitsumine, 三峯神の湯. This time we didn't try out neither of those, so I guess that is a good reason to come back in the future.!

Thanks for reading!

Basic Info

Place Mitsumine Shrine (三峰神社)
Location -24 km from Mitsumineguchi Station
-36 km from Seibu-Chichibu Station
Access Bus schedule here (Japanese only)
Admission fee Free

Bus Timetable WeekdaysWeekendWeekdaysWeekendWeekdays
Mitsumine Shrine 10:2511:2513:3015:2016:20

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Nagatoro Choseikan Ryokan
Nagatoro Choseikan
Wadoh Ryokan
Ikoi no Mura Heritage Minoyama
Heritage Minoyama Ryokan

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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