The Blessed Village of Nozawa
Updated: Jan 12, 2020
The quaint village of Nozawa Onsen is small but blessed with as many as 9 shrines and 5 temples or buddhist halls. Each area of the village have a place for worship. Take some time to explore the village’s less known sides. Start by recognising the difference between shrines and temples. Then, learn about some of the shrines or temples in village listed here and start exploring!
When you see a shrine?
The iconic identifier of a Shinto shrine is a 'torii' gate at its entrance, often in vermilion red and said to be a gate between this world and the world of gods. Having originated in ancient Japan, Shintoism believes that limitless Kami (gods) exists in nature, such as mountains, rocks and trees. The name of the shrine is often based on the kinds of gods worshiped there and it is usually looked after by Shinto priests and shrine maidens.
When you see a temple?
Temples typically have a large incense burner and Butsuzo (Buddhist statues or 'god’s figure'). Buddhism originated from India, and spread in Japan during the Heian era through China. In fact, temples and shrines are visited interchangeably and these beliefs are connected in many way in Japan for centuries. Monks live and work in the temples and there are different sects of buddha with different powers and origins.
YUZAWA SHRINE 湯沢神社
One of the two principal deities of Suwa Grand Shrine in Nagano. He is regarded as the god of determination, wind, water and agriculture, hunting and warfare.
ONSEN YAKUSHI-DO HALL 温泉薬師堂
Onsen Yakushi-Nyorai 温泉薬師如来
A variation of Bhaisajyaguru or the master of healing; a well respected god in the onsen village to protect its spring and people.
INARI SHRINE (HOKORA) 稲荷神社
Inari Okami 稲荷大神
The god of fertility, rice, tea and sake, with high agricultural significance. The iconic Inari fox guardians also rests in this tiny shrine (hokora).
YAKUSHIDO HALL 薬師堂
Meet Bhaisajyaguru or the master of healing before soaking in the natural hot spring and alleviate your muscle pain or improve joint conditions.
ONTAKE SHRINE 御嶽神社
Sukunabikona No Mikoto 少名毘古那神・少彦名命
A highly regarded deity of medicine, onsen and sake that assisted building the nation of Izumo. Also named a ‘small man of renown’.
NISHINOMIYA SHRINE 西宮神社
The deity of wealth as the enshrined deity that blesses prosperity and rush of business. Ebisu is one of the Shichifukujin (seven lucky gods).
HACHIMAN SHRINE 八幡神社
Known also as the warrior deity. As one of the most worshiped kami (gods) in Japan, there are over 25,000 Hachiman shrines exist dedicated to Emperor Ojin.
KENMEI-JI TEMPLE 健命寺
Bhaisajyaguru or the master of healing, as well as the twelve general gods (十二神将像) are worshiped here. The main hall was built in 1805.
Want to Know Nozawa Onsen Better?
Nozawa Onsen Village Guided Tour
Your English-speaking guide will take you around at your pace, helping you deepen you understanding of this traditional village along the way. Find out more about Shito and Nozawa Onsen, so you can go home with the full story!