Omiwa Shrine or Miwa Shrine is situated in Sakurai, Nara, in a quiet forest in front of Mount Miwa (467m). The notable thing about the shrine is that it is believed to serve Mount Miwa so there’s no shinden, main hall, for the deity to be housed. This type of mountain worship is found in the earliest forms of Shinto. Two ancient chronicles, Kojiki and Nihonshoki, compiled in 8th century wrote about the myth or tales of the origin of the shrine and religious practices surrounding the mountain. So Omiwa Shrine is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan.
a second torii leading to the inner compound
And then a large shime torii, an ancient form of torii made only with two posts and a rope called shimenawa. Haiden, prayer hall, you can see here was contributed by the fourth Tokugawa shogun Ietsuna in 1664.
This cedar tree is estimated 400 years old. According to Nihonshoki, Shinto God or Kami who resided here was also a snake god, so a snake was considered to be one of the kami worshiped here. A white snake can be seen to come out from the hole of this tree so it's called sacred cedar tree of snake. Frankly speaking, I'm not fond of the idea, though.
You can climb Mount Miwa from here. Once no entry was allowed but now anyone can climb it after registering and paying 300 yen at the shrine office. Here at the entrance you purify your soul and wear the handed white sash with a bell attached. (right)
No photograph, no eating and drinking except water in the mountain. I climbed a couple of times. It is almost a two-hour round trip. I am not a shintoist, however when I have something in mind, I feel like climbing that mountain. It's perspiring but the thought deities have been believed to reside since the ancient times and people have worshiped and admired it since the time immemorial makes me feel sober and refreshed. These days this place became popular as a "power spot" among young people who are interested in "spiritual" matter.
These areas called Yamato Basin or Nara Basin full of ancient burial mounds or historical remains, old temples and shrines. According to Chinese historical records, a united kingdom called Yamatai-koku ruled by Queen Himiko flourished in Japan in the early 3rd century. Who was Himiko? Where was Yamatai-koku? These are still controversial question but one theory says Hashihaka kofun (burial mound) related to Mount Miwa might be Himiko's.
Panoramic view from the lookout in the compound. Can you see a large torii in the middle of right side?
Pointed hill a liite left from the torii is Miminashi-yama and then Unebi-yama and Kagu-yama. Behind those three hills range Nijo-zan from the right and Mt. Katsuragi (959m) and then followed by Mt. Kongo (1125m).
I wanted to see sunset from here so returned here again a week later. The sky was not so clear and I was worried one hour drive from home woudln't pay off . However, soft glowing evening sun from the rift in the clouds was more than I had expected. It illuminated remaining thunderheads from behind and made glowing lines. I am afraid the picture didn't do it justice. Though my husband hurried me to go home, I wanted to stay here a bit longer.