Omiwa Shrine (大神神社, Ōmiwa-jinja) is an ancient Shinto shrine along the Yamanobe-no-michi walking trail in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture. Surrounded by thick forest at the base of Mount Miwa, the exact age of the shrine is unknown, but Omiwa is thought to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest shrine in Japan. The shrine has been held as hugely important for many centuries.

Shrines usually have a main hall where the deity is enshrined, but Omiwa Shrine predates this custom and has no main hall (although it does have a prayer hall), instead directing worship to Mount Miwa, which stands behind the complex. Okuninushi became associated with Mount Miwa, and the mountain is believed to be the embodiment of this very prominent Shinto deity.

The mountain is worshiped through a triple torii gate (mitsu-torii) at the back of the shrine's prayer hall. The triple torii style is ancient and extremely rare, and to see the gate, visitors must inquire at the shrine office and be guided by a priest. A similar triple torii gate stands at Hibara Shrine, an auxiliary shrine of Omiwa Shrine, a 20 minute walk north along the Yamanobe-no-michi Trail.

The mitsu-torii at Hibara Shrine

Access

Omiwa Shrine is located at the southern end of the Yamanobe-no-michi Trail, a ten minute walk from Miwa Station on the JR Sakurai Line. Miwa Station is connected with JR Nara Station (25 minutes, 320 yen one way) and Sakurai Station (3 minutes, 140 yen) twice per hour. Alternatively, the shrine is a ten minute taxi ride from Sakurai Station (about 1000 yen one way).

How to get to and around Sakurai

Hours & Fees

Hours

Always open (the shrine office is open from 9:00 to 17:00)

Closed

No closing days

Admission

Free