The Kumano Hayatama Grand Shrine in Shingū, Wakayama Prefecture is known as the place of the resurrection of life. Shingu means “new shrine” and includes evolving from primitive beliefs to Shintoism’s nature worship. Sensei and I visited this epitome of mystical Japan as the next stop of our pilgrimage on the Kumano Kodō.
In ancient times, the three gods, Kumano-Hayatama-no-omikami, Kumano-Musubi-no-omikami and Ketsumi-no-Miko-omikami came down from the heavens to the sacred rock named Gotobiki at Mt. Kamikura. This rock is the object of worship and the Kumano faith, and Sensei and I hiked up the arduous and steep path after this shrine. They were moved from Mt. Kamikura to Kumano Hayatama Taisha and enshrined there.
People in this region have been praying with reverence and gratitude while offering blessings of nature to the gods ever since. Purification ceremonies, which are the most striking features of Shinto, according to the shrine, continue to be held.
In medieval times, successive emperors and nobles came to worship at the shrine more than 140 times, according to the shrine. The 46th Emperor Koken gave a tablet which proclaimed, “Hayatama is the most sacred shrine in Japan.” A stone monument in the inner shrine honors these ancient emperors.
Pilgrims have offered more than 1200 items and are now deemed national treasures and large numbers of devotees travel here to worship and see them in the museum.