Group of 100 Devotees of Koyasan and Kumano


Member Profiles

Chief priest at Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine

Yozo Otokonari


November 21, 1953: Born in Kumamoto Prefecture.
March 1976: Graduated from Kokugakuin University.
April 1976: Entered into service at Meiji Jingu.
August 2003: Became a senior priest at Meiji Jingu Shrine.
March 2010: Became the director of the Veneration Association at Meiji Jingu Shrine.
April 2011: Became a deputy representative of Meiji Jingu Shrine.
April 2016: Became the chief priest at Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine.

He also serves as the chairman of the Wakayama Prefecture Folk Art Preservation Association and the director of the Wakayama Prefecture Shinto Shrine Agency.

Kumano and Nachi, a sacred place for the worship of nature

Situated at the southernmost tip of Honshu, Kumano, which enjoys a warm climate thanks to the Pacific Ocean’s Kuroshio Current, is a mountainous area that is known for the scenic beauty of its mountains, ocean, and rivers. The power of Kumano’s sacred and profound natural landscape and the gods who inhabit it give it the power to cleanse visitors of their sins and return them to the original body and mind that characterize the human condition.
The famous Nachi Waterfall has always captured people’s imaginations, both in the past and today. As haiku poet Kyoshi Takahama wrote, Japanese people see god in these waters.
When they arrive at Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine after climbing the stone steps of its pilgrimage route, visitors see Nachi Waterfall along with Nachi Primeval Forest in the foreground and the Pacific Ocean in the distance. The morning sun bathes the shrine’s buildings in its light, highlighting that this is a sacred place where one can truly worship nature while viewing at once the sun, the fall, the ocean, and the mountains.
Kumano has long inspired faith as a place where the gods of Shinto coexist with the Buddha in a dense and luxuriantly wooded wilderness. Mt. Nachisan continues to be the source of Japanese faith in which Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples coexist.

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