Awashima Shrine

Description: 
Located in Kada area, Wakayama, Awashima jinja is considered as the shrine for women and is famous for Hinanagashi festival with enormous collection of dolls inside the precinct, known as birthplace of Hinamatsuri, the Japanese Dolls Festival. Nahi Kona-no-mikoto, Hime-no-mikoto and Ojo Namuji no-mikoto are main deities enshrined in Awashima shrine. Nahi Kona-no-mikoto is known as the ancestor of medicine that is believed to have the power for illness recovery and easy delivery. That is why the shrine has attracted many women coming and praying for happiness, health and safe birth.
 
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Awashima shrine
 
Legend tells that in early third century, when Empress Jingu was coming back home from the battle in Korea through ocean, the boat was overwhelmed by a storm near Kataura Bay. It was believed that Gods helped to steer her boat to Tamogashima Island in which she found a small shrine of Medicine God then she moved it to the present place in the next century.
Through the Treasure house with many treasures that have been dedicated from the Tokugawa family, a short stair will lead you to a large yard from which you can see the main shrine with the eye catching color of red. The building is characterized by curved eave style over vermilion lacquered cross beams and pillars. In the left side of the main shrine, there is a small trail leading to other subshrines of Awashima. Inside the shrine ground, you can also find a sacred tree called Yoshikusunoki and Shiotsubo, a stone which is believed to heal all the painful parts of the body, especially the teeth.
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Dolls donated from all over Japan gathering on the shrine
 
What makes Awashima shrine unique is the collection of dolls which does not lie in one spot but scattered every where in the shrine ground, lining up in the vermilion-lacquered building. There are a countless number of dolls and figurines which are sorted by category. These dolls are called memorial dolls given by people from all over Japan from traditional Japanese dolls to tanuki, mysterious masks, maneki neko, Hokkaido bears, inari, Stuffed animals, daruma, frogs, yoshitsune, shichi fukujin and zodiac figurines. There is even a doll with growing hair but now it is unfortunately not open to the public.
The dolls, after leaving their owners, spends their time in Awashima shrine in the peaceful atmosphere with a sense of calm and loneliness which you can feel from their eyes. There is an overwhelming presence from them that you feel like they are thinking. We have not known whether ghosts exist or not but you will believe that there is surely something like a soul inside each of dolls.
 
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The boat of dolls sailing out to the sea
 
The shrine is famous for Hinanagashi festival held on every 3rd of March. The dolls donated to the shrine during a year are put into a plain wood of the ship and sent out to the sea. The boat has to face with waves bringing the hope that the dolls can take sicknesses or bad lucks away. It is a memorable moment to look at the boat full of dolls with colorful kimono reflected on the sparkling water surface sailing hidden from view.
 
Open time: 

From 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Last entry is 4:30 pm )

Shrine office: from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm

The shrine is closed every Monday or the next Tuesday if Monday is holiday

Admission: 
Shrine ground: free
 
Treasure hall
-Adult: 300 yen
-Children: 200 yen
How to access: 
-By train: from Wakayamashi station or Kinokawa station, take Nanka Kada Line and get off at Kada Station then take a 15 minute walk.
 
-By Car:From the Wakayama Interchange on the Hanwa Expressway, take National Route 24 and Prefectural Road 15, 7 toward Kada for approximately 17.2 km.