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World Heritage / Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range

Criteria: (ii) (iii) (iv) (vi) | Date of Inscription: 2004 | Location: Mie, Nara and Wakayama Prefectures | Justification for Inscription

UNESCO

Things to see

Kumano Sanzan

The Nachi no Himatsuri
The Nachi no Himatsuri
Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine
Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine
Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine
Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine
Nachi Taisha Shrine
Nachi Taisha Shrine
Seiganto-ji temple and Nachi no Otaki
Seiganto-ji temple and Nachi no Otaki
The Kumano area is located in the southeastern portion of the Kii Mountain Range and consists of three shrines; Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha and Kumano Nachi Taisha in addition to two temples; Seiganto-ji and Fudarakusan-ji. Each being located some 20-40 km apart they are linked by the pilgrimage route known as Kumano Sankeimichi Nakahechi. With an origin intent on worshipping nature, the three shrines were worshiped as the combined Kumano Sansho Gongen (meaning the three deities of Kumano), and flourished as a pilgrimage destination on the Kumano-mode pilgrimage route.
The buildings of Kumano Sanzan have their own distinctive styles that cannot be seen in other shrines and so serve as the model for 3,000 branch Kumano shrines nationwide.
Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine
Kumano Hongu Taisha was once called Kumanoniimasu-jinja and was situated on the sandbank of the Kumano River from ancient times. After being hit by a flood in 1889 however, it was reconstructed at the current site in 1891 and is in place to worship trees.
Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine
Kumano Hayatama Taisha includes Gongenyama, Mifunejima and Otabisho in the area around the shrine. "Nagi-no-ki," or, a sacred tree, is also in the precincts and many sutra mounds can be found around the Honden (main building) and on Mt.Gongenyama. Kamikura Shrine, where the enshrined deity is believed to have descended, is on the mountainside.
Kumano Otomatsuri, a fire festival held each February 6th, is designed to uphold ancient religious traditions and used to be held on January 6th. The shrine itself worships an enormous rock
Nachi Taisha Shrine
Nachi Taisha is located on the hillside of Mt. Nachi and has a religious origin based on the ancient nature worship of Nachi no Otaki, a vast waterfall in the area. Nachi Taisha enshrines Kumano Junisho Gongen and also Hiro Gongen - the deified version of Nachi no Otaki.
Originally located under the waterfall, it was moved to its current location some years ago. The Nachi no Himatsuri, a fire festival, is held annually on July 14th.
Seiganto-ji temple
Once known as Nyoirindo in Nachi, this temple developed in sync with Kumano Nachi Taisha before the Shintoism and Buddhism Separation Decree in 1868 and is the first of the sacred temples of "Saigokujunrei," - a circuit of 33 holy temples.
Nachi no Otaki (Nachi Waterfall)
Nachi no Otaki is 133 m in height and 13 m in width making it the largest waterfall in Japan. As such, it is the original source of worship for the Kumano Nachi Taisha and also Seiganto-ji.
Nachi Primeval Forest
Nachi Primeval Forest is a 32 hectare sacred forest covering much of the area to the east of the Nachi no Otaki.
Fudarakusan-ji temple
Fudarakusan-ji is known to be worshipped by believers of the idea that those who sail into the southern ocean will find Buddhism's Pure Land.
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