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Ryugu Shrine

On the southernmost tip of the Satsuma Peninsula in Kagoshima’s Nagasaki-bana sits Ryugu Shrine, the birthplace of Urashima Taro, a protagonist of Japanese folklore as well as a tribute to the sea god Ryujin. The traditional fire red, wooden Mamori boards sit erect next to the lapping crystal blue tropical waves of Kyushu and shell covered sands.

  • Ryugu Shrine

    Ryugu Shrine

    An off the beaten track experience, Ryugu Shrine is a small but majestic tribute to the birthplace of Urashima Taro, a tale that may have been inspired by the sea turtles that come here yearly to lay their eggs. A popular folk story about a fisherman by the name of Urashima Taro who helped a tortured turtle get back into its ocean home. Thankful, the turtle invited Taro down into the underwater Ryugu-jo or the Palace of the Dragon. It is there where Taro spent what he believed to be a few days entertained by the underwater princess Otohime. He was content at first, but eventually became homesick, and so decided to return home. Before he departed, the princess gifted him a box which he was told not to open. Curiosity got the better of him and once he returned back to the sandy beach of his hometown, Taro opened the box to find that 300 years had passed since he had left, turning him into a old man.

    Ryugu Shrine

    Ryugu Shrine

    It is said that the folklore is heavily influenced by ancient Chinese culture, and the shrine is also modeled after historical Chinese architecture, hence the striking white and red facade which complements the impressive blue background of the vast ocean. The shrine’s deity Ryujin is seen as a protective deity by the locals, making the turtles much loved by everyone who comes to see them in the area. The Shrine itself is known for matchmaking and praying for luck in love.

    Ryugu Shrine

    Ryugu Shrine

    Next to the shrine, a large container of shells sits waiting for travelers to make prayers or wishes. It is said that if you write your wish on a shell and place it in the bucket your wish will be granted. This is a unique alternative to the common custom of Shinto Shrines for people to write their prayers or wishes on wooden plaques called ‘Ema’ which are hung up to swing in the wind next to the shrine. At Ryugu Shrine the bucket is always filled with wishes of travelers and worshipers.

    Ryugu Shrine

    Ryugu Shrine

    The train connecting Kagoshima-Chuo with Ibusuki is also designed around the folk tale. The bold monotone exterior and boarding through white smoke mimics Urashima Taro's treasure box, the ‘Tamatebako’. With comfortable interior seats, the train is also a big tourist attraction for visitors.

    Ryugu Shrine

    Ryugu Shrine

    Ryugu Shrine is about a 15-minute drive from Nishi-oyama Station on the JR Ibusuki-makurazaki line. It is also possible to take the Kagoshima Kotsu Bus at Yamagawa station on the JR Ibusuki-makurazaki line. The Shrine is about a three-minute walk from Nagasakibana bus stop.

    Ibusuki
    Address
    Kagoshima Pref. Ibusukishi Yunohama 1-chome
    Phone
    Ryumiya Shrine
    Address
    Kagoshima Pref. Ibusukishi Yamagawaokachogamizu 1581-34
    Phone
    0993350811
    Nagasakibana
    Address
    Kagoshima Pref. Ibusukishi Yamagawaokachogamizu Nagasakihana
    Phone
    0993222111
    Nishioyama
    Address
    Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture
    Phone
  • Yamakawa
    Address
    Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture
    Phone
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