The shintai (object of worship) is an enormous stone that is a complete mystery!
Intrigued by those words, I went to visit Oshiko Shrine, in Takasago city.
As you get closer to the shrine, the sight of the bare mountain surface slightly further to the south jumps out at you! Mt. Tatsuyama is the location of an ancient stone quarry that is still in use today. As the stone is sturdy and easy to work, it was widely used for stone coffins during Kofun period (250-538 AD)!
After you finish the stairs, the front shrine right is in front of your eyes, so two bows and two claps. Not stopping to wait, I pass a small area for votive pictures and head beyond the front shrine to where the shintai is to be found.
Behold, the mysterious temple of the stone.
It’s surrounded by stone walls on three sides. Visitors have a view looking up at the stone, but even if I draw back as much as I can, I can’t capture the whole thing with my camera.
If you go around the back, you can see that the stone has been carved into a shape resembling a roof, which some say resembles a Braun tube television!
As its base has been carved inside from all four sides, it almost looks like it’s floating on top of water.
After climbing the stone stairs and looking at the stone temple from above, I finally understood how it was made. At 6.5 meters wide, 5.6 meters high and 5.6 meters deep, and weighing an estimated 456 tons, the stone temple was carved out of Mt. Tatsuyama’s bedrock.
According to legend, two gods were working on the construction of the stone temple, but while they were suppressing a revolt, morning came and they were not able to lift the palace to the front.
The theory that the temple was actually made in the 7th century at the end of Kofun period is a plausible one, but both its purpose and maker remain a mystery.
There is a smooth stone surface on top of the mountain. Even emperor Taisho once climbed on top, apparently.
The great view that opens up from the mountaintop is another big highlight of the shrine – on clear days you can even see Himeji Castle. The Harima Coast Industrial Zone spreads out to the south, and you can also see deserted islands floating in the Seto Inland Sea.
How about a touch of ancient mystery, and a view of the ocean by the shrine enveloped by stone?
Access to Oshiko Shrine (National historical site, the holy shrine of the stone)
Train & Bus: Take the Joton Bus from the South exit of JR Hoden station; get off at Fureai no Sato Oshiko stop and it’s a 5-minute walk from there.
Train & on foot: Get off the train at JR Hoden station and walk 25-minutes in a southwesterly direction!
Car: Turn off National Road 2 to the south and get onto prefectural road 392 from the lights at Takasago North ramp. (This is a parking area for shrine visitors.)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Madoka Hori
Madoka Hori / Photo-writer Entrepreneurial translator/writer living in Hyogo. As a licensed English tour guide, she occasionally takes tourists to beautiful destinations such as Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Kyoto, and Osaka and her clients have never got lost so far. On Setouchi Finder, as one of the original team members, she enjoys taking photos and sharing her favorite hidden gems. Private Photo Blog http://riderv328.tumblr.com Twitter https://twitter.com/Riderv328
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