- November 05 2015
Take A Walk To Nakasha And Kagami-ike In Togakushi Shrine, Nagano Prefecture!
The name of Togakushi Shrine is closely associated with a long strip of cedar forests in Nagano. Many people (including Japanese!) don’t know that Togakushi Shrine is built up with a group of 5 shrines (Hokosha, Hinomikosha, Nakasha, Kuzuryusha, and Okusha) and the accessways linking them is called Togakushi-Komichi.
There are at least 2km between each shrine and accessways are ALL slopes! It is almost impossible to visit all 5 shrines in a day…
Nakasha is the must-visit among Togakushi Shrines, though. We will show you how to get there, what’s good to see, etc.
Direction To Nakasha From Nagano Station
Nakasha in Togakushi Shrine has its own bus stop, so you can take a bus from Nagano Station directly. Buses run from 6am to 6pm, but just be forewarned that they only run once an hour. Around the bus stop, there is an information center, restaurants and so on, so many trekkers begin their journey from here.
If you begin walking from Okusha, it takes about 2km downhill to Nakasha. It is a 30 minutes wal or 5 minute bus ride from Okusha.
The huge Torii (the gate to the shrine) by the bus stop welcomes you!
900 Year-Old Cedar Is A National Treasure...Don’t Miss It!
You will see stone steps after entering the gate.
A 900 year-old tremendous cedar catches your eye before you climb the steps.
In Shinto, long-lived trees harbor powerful natural forces and become sacred trees. Nagano Prefecture is known as a foresty prefecture which has many long-lived trees and people have strong beliefs about sacred trees. This thick skin tells its extensive history.
Not only this 900 year-old cedar, but many cedar trees are found around the shrine.
Alright, let’s take the steps to the top!
Visit Nakasha Building In Togakushi Shrine
When you reach the top, you will see the Nakasha building.
These dog-shaped statues are called Komainu which protects the shrine from negative vibes coming in. Komainus stand guard at almost all shrines in Japan.
Nakasha is often paired with Okusha, but the Nakasha building has a far greater cultural impact than Okusha.
Nakasha worships the Shinto God of knowledge and academics. Many students in Nagano Prefecture come to pray for success with their exams. You may be forced to queue in front of the building to offer prayers in weekends or holidays, but there is no line on weekdays.
There is a waterfall behind the building.
Walking A Little More For Kagami-ike
If you plan to visit Okusha from Nakasha, why not take a longer walk and stop by Kagami-ike?
Kagami-ike is located left on this map above, it makes a triangle with Nakasha (down right on the map) and Okusha (middle on top). From Nakasha, it takes 4km to Kagami-ike and 3km from Kagami-ike to the gate called Zuishinmon to enter Okusha. If you like to hike, this is the perfect distance to travel filled with wonderful views.
You can see the peaks of Mount Togakushi from Kgami-ike (kagami means a mirror and ike means a pond in Japanese), and you’ll see a collaboration of mountains and brilliantly coloured leaves reflected in the water during the autumn season. Well...the day we visited it was way too early and too windy for a beautiful autumn view...
There is a lodge which sells a savoury cake made with Soba (buckwheat) available, so it can be a good place to take a break during your hike.
What do you think about Nakasha and Kagami-ike in Togakushi area in Nagano Prefecture? Please refer here (Lets’s go to Togakushi Shrine, a spiritual place in Nagano! Recommended course for exploring) for more and other information about Togakushi if you are interested!