“Ōbatake no Seto”, one of Japan’s three major tides, is located just under Ōshima Bridge, which connects Yanai City in Yamaguchi with Suō-Ōshima Island.
At one time, this was considered the most difficult point to sail across for ships heading to the Seto Inland Sea.
With a fast tide and whirlpools that swallowed many lives, people were terrified of the golden dragon they believed lived there.
Now however, as the tide brings nutrients, the once frightened people of the area know it as a mecca for sea bream fishing.
This is a typically idyllic Setouchi scene, but what if I told you there was a Dragon’s Palace at the bottom of the sea? What would you think?
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Yeah, I know. That’s Urashima Tarō’ s place, right?” But might it be the house of the terrifying golden dragon??
In ancient documents it is written that, “about 82 m beneath Ōbatake no Seto, there is a rock called Ryūjin-yashiki that is also known as the Dragon’s Castle…” (Modern Translation)
Checking the seabed, there is a point that drops off abruptly. Nearby, there is a stone lantern baring the inscription “Dragon Lantern” (Rebuilt in 2013.)
Now, it starts to ring true…
So, why hasn’t anyone tried throwing in a fishing line to catch the dragon?
The reason is that “Hannya Hime”, the unsurpassed beauty with whom Mikado (Emperor) fell in love at first sight, sacrificed herself and calmed the dragon.
About 1400 years ago, the out-of-control dragon created many storms and sank many ships. They say his anger calmed only after Hannya Hime had given herself to him. She tore herself away from her servants and jumped into the whirlpool. Her dying words were, “to prevent accidents from happening again, I’ll be a guardian deity of Seto. Please bury my body on that mountain.”
At the top of the mountain towards which Hannya Hime pointed, stands “Hannya-ji” Temple.
The temple that enshrines Hannya Hime has been protecting Ōbatake no Seto for 1400 years.
Mr. Fukushima Kōshō, the temple’s 90th chief priest says, “Ryūjin-yashiki is the place that Hannya Hime rests with the golden dragon. It is said that her soul comes back as a dragon lantern (will o’ the wisp) to Hannya-ji temple on each New Year’s Eve. The fact that people are able to safely enjoy fishing now might be by the grace of Hannya Hime.”
From Hannya-ji Temple, you can look out over Ōbatake no Seto.
Imagining Hannya Hime holding the golden dragon under the deep dark sea… the calm scene brings tears to my eyes…
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Masashi Fujimoto
Built by Emperor Yōmei to pray for Hannya Hime’s soul, this Shingon Buddhist temple is located high on the mountain, separate from the world. It houses precious cultural assets such as mausoleums for Hannya Hime and Emperor Yōmei, a small “Golden Kan’non” Buddhist statue, a Ryūjin pond, and 3 documents about Hannya-ji. You can feel the abundance of local folklore and legends here.
Address: 1166 Usanagi, Hirao-chō, Kumage-gun, Yamaguchi
Open Hours: 8:00 – 17:00
Parking: 120 spaces available
Website (Japanese): http://hannyaji.net/index.html
Give us your Like
Masafumi Fujimoto Hi there! My name is Masafumi Fujimoto. Until the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, I was engaged in editing production at an advertising company in Tokyo. However, the earthquake was a turning point in my life and I headed home to Yamaguchi. When I arrived, I was extremely energized and motivated to help revitalize the region, but I had a hard time adjusting to the motivation level of the local people. Around that time I met an elderly lady who said: "It doesn't matter if all the people move away from the island; that's just the nature of things. Someday people will come back again." Lessening the tension I’d been feeling, those few words relieved me hugely, and I was able to finally adjust. Since then, I've been involved in writing and editing magazines, and working in advertisement production, as well as doing a little bit of farming. I also spend time walking around Setouchi searching for the many, many voices out there.
> Speaking of Setouchi, the must-eat item is seafood! – A selection of 7 spots where you can try fresh seafood.
> A selection of 7 cafes and restaurants in Setouchi with superb scenery and views of the sea.
> A tranquil garden full of Japanese beauty and a huge carpet of green moss. / Gallery Teahouse Kokemushiro (Seiyo-shi, Ehime)
> 3 places for barhopping in Yokogawawhich carefully selected by a “hard-drinking” writer / Nice Yukari, Gohan-ya Haru-chan, and Trois Copain
> Please fully enjoy local sake brewed in Tokushima at the shop where you can “buy and drink.” / Taro Saketen (Tokushima-shi, Tokushima)
> A century-old Japanese house which an Onomichi merchant used as a villa has been renovated for accommodation. / The house rental “Kujira Bekkan” (Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima)
> An inn where you can find “ordinary Kobe” / Guesthouse MAYA (Kobe-shi, Hyogo)
> This could be the best choice for your stay in Awajishima! How about having a family trip while staying at a hot spring resort where you can get a great ocean view? / Hotel New Awaji Group (Sumoto-shi, Hyogo)
> Come and see, rail fans! A new base for a circular sightseeing tour in Shikoku, which is produced by JR SHIKOKU./ 4S STAY Awaikeda Sta.(Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima)
> Books, a bar, and international exchange!? 3 selections of hotel and guesthouses which have attractive little perks in the center of Hiroshima / (KIRO Hiroshima -THE SHARE HOTELS-, EN HIROSHIMA, and 36HOSTEL)
> Visit historic spots in the city center of Hiroshima on foot and learn about the history of peace (Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima)
> This is the ultimate soothing trip – feel the sense and the heart of Japan in Uchiko Town and Ozu City in Ehime.
> Beauty exists in every detailed corner of your eyesight! 8 spots where you can see wonderful views of Setouchi and its beautiful islands.
> Visiting the well-known “power spots” where mystical energy flows! This northern drive route visits temples, shrines, and cultural heritage sites in Tottori, Shimane, and Yamaguchi
> A continual stream of natural beauty which will make your heart tremble! The eastern drive route covers the best viewing spots in Okayama, Hyogo, and Tokushima
> Let’s enjoy a liberating new Setouchi voyage by “SEA SPICA”!
> The last report on the shipbuilding of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi -Vol.5. STU48 members attended the launching ceremony. / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> A report on the shipbuilding of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi -Vol.4. STU48 members paint the ship’s logo! / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> A report on the merging of the superstructure and the base of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi Vol.3 by members of STU48 / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> A report on the shipbuilding of “SEA SPICA,” the high-speed sightseeing cruiser for island hopping in Setouchi. Vol.2 shows you the “Reversal Procedure” where the ship is turned over. / West Japan Railway Company 【PR】
> Shimanami Kaido - Cyclist's Paradise
> Onomichi U2 and the Giant Store – the perfect partners for enjoying the Shimanami Kaidō
> Eating, Cycling & Getting Warm : Akiyoshidai Karst Road (Mine City, Yamaguchi Prefecture)
> Kasaoka Island Hopping by Bike : A perfect 2-day trip! (Okayama)
> A Rare Lighthouse & Spelunking!? Traversing Ogijima by Bicycle! (Ogi, Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture)
> “ONOMARU SHOUTEN” is the shop which has all of Onomichi’s fascinations. / JR Onomichi Ekisha (Onomichi-shi, Hiroshima)
> Kobe Shopping: 3 Distinct Local Brands to Bring Home（Kobe, Hyogo）【PR】
> Experience the ancient way of salt making on Kamikamagari-jima Island on the Tobishima Kaido in Aki-nada! / Kamagari Ancient Salt Making Remains Restoration Pavilion & “Amabito-no-Moshio” (Kure-shi, Hiroshima)
> “Meika Shitatsuzumi, ”a Japanese sweet from Yamaguchi which is soft, pleasant and melty on your tongue / San-in-do (Yamaguchi-shi, Yamaguchi)
> Let’s enjoy taking a walk down the shopping street near Matsuyama Castle./Matsuyama Ropeway Shopping Street (Matsuyama-shi, Ehime Prefecture)
See more articles about "Others"OthersList
Kobe City Himeji City Amagasaki City Akashi City Nishinomiya City Sumoto City Ashiya City Itami City Aioi City Toyooka City Kakogawa City Ako City Nishiwaki City Takarazuka City Miki City Takasago City Kawanishi City Ono City Mita City Kasai City Sasayama City Yabu City Tanba City Minamiawaji City Asago City Awaji City Shiso City Kato City Tatsuno City Inagawa Taka Inami Harima Ichikawa Fukusaki Kamikawa Taishi Kamigori Sayo Kami Shinonsen
- Okayama Pref.
- Hiroshima Pref.
- Yamaguchi Pref.
- Tokushima Pref.
- Kagawa Pref.
- Ehime Pref.