Munakata Shrine: Discover the Mystical Charm of Hetsumiya

Immersed in the rich cultural tapestry of Japan’s Fukuoka Prefecture, Munakata Taisha (or Munataka Shrine) beckons visitors with its spiritual allure and fascinating traditions. It is also known affectionately by the locals as Munataka Jinja. Known for its trio of shrines dispersed across three islands, our journey centres on the main shrine in Munataka Shrine, Hetsumiya, on the island of Kyushu. It is also known for its Kagura, which is unique to this area.

Divine Trio: The Munakata Goddesses

The very heart of Munakata Taisha, Hetsumiya is the shrine that houses the spirit of the goddess Tagitsu-hime, one of the three Munakata goddesses. They are revered for their divine lineage. Her sisters, Ichikishima-hime and Tagori-hime, dwell in the sister shrines on Oshima and Okinoshima islands respectively. This divine triumvirate embodies a distinctive element of the Shinto faith – the veneration of natural forces and deities in harmony.

Of the three shrines, Hetsumiya is the easiest to visit by far. In addition to being on Kyushu island, it can also be reached by public transport (train then bus – see below). It also does not have access controls like Okinoshima, which is only open to a few men during religious festivals. Traditionally, women were banned from Okinoshima. Hetsumiya has never had those restrictions.

The Journey to Hetsumiya

As you approach Hetsumiya, the grand torii gate welcomes you. It serves as the boundary between the mundane and the spiritual. Stepping into the shrine precinct, you find yourself surrounded by an air of tranquillity. This is a characteristic feature of Shinto shrines. The lush, verdant landscape, punctuated by the rustic charm of the shrine buildings, creates an ambience of peace and reverence.

The Grace of Kagura at Munataka Shrine

While the architectural grace of Hetsumiya is a sight to behold, Kagura truly sets the Munakata Shrine apart. Rooted deeply in Japanese folklore, Kagura is a sacred dance performed at Shinto shrines, believed to entertain the gods. Munakata Taisha’s unique rendition of this dance is a testament to the region’s distinct cultural identity.

Hetsumiya’s Kagura is not just a dance – it’s a vibrant spectacle. Donned in traditional costumes, the performers move gracefully, embodying the tales of Shinto deities through fluid choreography. The rhythmic beating of drums, the soothing strumming of the koto, and the melodic flute combine to provide a hypnotic background score that complements the dance.

You can read more about the special Kagura at Munataka Shrine here.

Getting to Munakata Shrine from Fukuoka City

Starting your journey from Hakata Station, you can reach Munakata Shrine via the JR Kagoshima Main Line to Togo Station. The train journey should take approximately 30 minutes. From Togo Station, it’s just a 10-minute taxi ride to the Munakata Shrine. Alternatively, you can also opt for the local bus service. As you take this route, you will be following in the footsteps of countless pilgrims over countless centuries. This isn’t just me being poetic. Okinoshima is a UNESCO world heritage site studied to see how the rituals changed from the 4th to 9th centuries.


For those seeking to experience the enchanting blend of spirituality, culture, and nature, a visit to Hetsumiya is an opportunity like no other. Let the allure of the Munakata Jinja captivate your senses and soul. Discover the essence of Japan’s spiritual heritage through this captivating, ancient shrine, and create memories that will linger long after your visit.

Thanks for reading! Want to do some more exploring? Have a look at the travel map:

Travelers’ Map is loading…
If you see this after your page is loaded completely, leafletJS files are missing.

Key: Sightseeing (blue), Nature (green), Food (purple), Art/Festivals/Culture/Religion (orange), General Information (black), Quora question (red)

Interested in seeing our social media? Follow us on Instagram for travel photos!

Leave a Reply