Niukanshobu-jinja Shrine Chief Priest
I am the chief priest of Niukanshobu-jinja Shrine. I was born in Wakayama. My birth and entire life up until now have been connected with the shrine. When I was 27, my father passed away, and I took over the role of chief priest after him. I have been raised for the priesthood ever since I was a child playing in the shrine precinct and surrounding forests.
Having become chief priest at such a young age, I learned to rely upon the support of those around me, and I have continued to do so to this day.
Currently, in addition to conducting the devotional services at the shrine, my role is to build bridges between the shrine and future generations by talking with worshipers about such topics as how god relates to their daily life, about the history of the shrine or about the choishi-michi pilgrimage route.
This venerable shrine was established by the monk Kukai (posthumously known as Saint Kobo Daishi) and is enshrined at the starting point of the Koyasan Choishi-michi Pilgrimage Route. The main shrine backs up against the sacred Koyasan, and worshipers can offer prayers directed toward the mountain from within the shrine precinct. The god Koya Myojin is enshrined here, and he is said to have the appearance of a huntsman; legend states that he keeps two dogs - one black, one white - which he released to help guide Kukai to Koyasan.
Lately, there have been a great many worshipers who have come to the shrine specifically to receive its seal stamp. I meet all sorts of different people who climb the 119 stone steps to receive the shrine’s seal stamp, including those who climb for the invigoration of it, families who are on a fun outing, devout pilgrims on a circuit of temples and shrines, local shrine parishioners and many others. But what I see among all of them is a desire to find a place of hallowed sanctity where they can offer peaceful prayer to the gods. I will continue to treasure the opportunities I have to meet with all who come to worship.