Nara Ken, Nara Prefecture — January 9, 2018 at 6:09 PM

Tenkawa Daibenzaiten-sha, Deep in the Mountains of Nara-ken.

by

Tenkawa Daibenzaiten-sha: Our Journey into the Ōmine Mountains of Nara Prefecture.

Entrance to the Tenkawa-Daibenzaiten-sha (天河大弁財天社) shrine, Ōmine Mountains (大峰山), Nara Prefecture.

Entrance to the Tenkawa-Daibenzaiten-sha (天河大弁財天社) shrine, Ōmine Mountains (大峰山), Nara Prefecture.

Tenkawa Daibenzaiten-sha our journey begins. During the first few days of the new year, Japanese people visit local and famous shrines, this is called Hatsumōde (初詣). I went with my family to a famous shrine in Nara Prefecture. It’s a small three-hour drive from Kyoto. After exiting the highway our journey deep into rural Nara Prefecture started in earnest. The road started to ascend and each tunnel, some were very long, brought us closer to our destiny. The surroundings were breathtaking with magnificent Japanese cedar trees, wild rivers, and snow. The Tenkawa Daibenzaiten-sha sits at an altitude of 580 meters above sea level. This shrine is considered a “Power Spot” and visited by many people in the entertainment profession.

History of Tenkawa Daibenzaiten-sha in Nara:

There is a signboard with Japanese, Korean and English and this is what it says: “The hallowed ground of Tenkawa Daibenzaiten-sha (天河大弁財天社) that is revered at the rear shrine of Tenkawa jinja reigns over the middle reaches of the Ōmine Mountains (大峰山). Its solemn contour emanates a religiously profound presence that has made it a bastion of the Kannabi faith (神名備) that incarnates the water, trees, and earth with deities, and ranked it number one amongst Japan’s sacred mountains. It is also believed that Japan’s version of the goddess of music, performing arts and water, Benzaiten (弁才天), originated here when the founder of ascetic Buddhism, En no Gyōja (役行者), saw the goddess descend from the heavens while he was praying for the safety of the country on Mt. Misen, and welcomed her into his basin. 

Dragon Head at Tenkawa-Daibenzaiten-sha (天河大弁財天社) shrine, Ōmine Mountains (大峰山), Nara Prefecture.

Dragon Head at Tenkawa-Daibenzaiten-sha

The Tenkawa Daibenzaiten-sha was actually built in the latter half of the 7th century by the Prince Ōama (大海人皇子), (later Emperor Tenmu (天武天皇), on Mt. Biwa in this same basin, after winning the Jinshin War (壬申の乱), as a gesture of gratitude to the miracle-working Benzaiten he had prayed to for victory. The site would later become the most sacred place on the mountain, as prominent monks of the likes of Kūkai (空海), also known posthumously as Kōbō-Daishi (弘法大師), confined themselves inside in prayer.
The Tenkawa Daibenzaiten-sha in Nara Prefecture is also closely tied to Noh (能) and is recognized as the goddess of art, theater, and music. It has many important cultural properties in the history of this performing art such as a “Nōmen Akobujō – 能面 阿古父尉” mask of an old man donated by the 14th century Noh Playwright Motomasa Kanze.”

Michi no Eki Yoshino-gun and Kurotaki Onsen in Nara.

There was a Yamazaki convenience store and an omiyage store. Outside were several vendors offering grilled river fish and Oden (おでん).

There was a Yamazaki convenience store and an omiyage store. Outside were several vendors offering grilled river fish and Oden (おでん).

After our visit to Tenkawa Daibenzaiten-sha we were so hungry. It was the third day of the new year and all restaurants were closed. The only place open was a Michi no Eki rest-op a short drive away. There was a Yamazaki convenience store and an omiyage store. Outside were several vendors offering grilled river fish and Oden (おでん).
Oden (おでん) is a Japanese one-pot winter dish consisting of several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon, konjac, and processed fishcakes stewed in a light, soy-flavored dashi broth. Hart warming on a cold snowy winters day.
No trip to Japan is complete with a nice dip in a local onsen. The Kurotaki onsen in Nara Prefecture, although not very large, was a godsend. Recently renovated its water boosts healing properties.
Nearby is a suspension bridge that leads into an open space popular during the sakura and autumn season. It’s a one-man lane 35 meters above ground and 115 meters long.

The suspension bridge is a one-man lane 35 meters above ground and 115 meters long.

The suspension bridge is a one-man lane 35 meters above ground and 115 meters long.

We sure had a lot of fun and want to return in spring to explore this area a bit more. According to the Nara regional website, this area is particularly known for its water, which says a lot, considering the abundance of water in Japan. This area in Nara contains a cluster of Dorogawa springs known as “gorogoro water,” which literally means “rumbling water.” Through the village flows the scenic Ten-no-kawa (Milky Way) mountain stream, from which the village gets its name. More pictures here:

You might be interested in the following related posts:

Kadomatsu and Shimekazari: New-Years Decoration!

Fushimi Inari Taisha During Shōgatsu!

Kasuga-taisha Shrine in Nara!

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

Would love to hear from you....