Bentenjima Shrine

Bentenjima Shrine

In a crescent shaped cove separated from the mainland on the small island known as Bentenjima Island, you will find the mysterious Bentenjima Shrine. The vermillion painted tori gate stands out against the jagged stone and the powerful waves. It is believed that the shrine was land based until an earthquake that occurred in 1410 resulted in the formation of this jagged rock island. The construction date of the original shrine is unknown.

The island is also known as Wanigafuchi because, according to legend, a creature known as a “wanizame” (crocodile shark) lived on the island. Half crocodile, half shark, this creature can be seen in many old Japanese paintings. The creature may have been believed to cause the swirling water and violent waves that crashed against the rocks, sometimes resulting in people getting swept into the water. Another legend suggests that the wanizame once kidnapped a young woman from Iwaki who had wandered out to explore the island.

This coast is lined with small round pebbles that shine when the water hits them. However, do not take any of these pebbles home, legend says that anyone who takes pebbles home from this coast will suffer from eye disease.

This area was once a very popular destination for tourists and I highly recommend checking out the photos on the Iwaki city website linked below. It is all in Japanese, but you can read it with the google translate extension on google chrome browsers.

Venue Details

Venue Details
Websitehttp://www.city.iwaki.lg.jp/www/contents/1480645369048/index.html
Best Season
  • Summer
ParkingNone : car park
Access Details
AccessYokouchi-9 Hisanohamamachi Tanoami, Iwaki, Fukushima 979-0335
View directions
Getting there

It is situated right before/after a tunnel, so those without a keen eye may not notice this place. I recommend parking your car at the public parking lot down the road and walking over this island to do a bit of exploring. The parking lot is not on google maps, but you will notice a big parking lot with a public restroom. It will be on your right, before the temple, shrine, and tunnel.

There is a beautiful temple ( Hattachi-Yakushi Temple ) near the shrine that I recommend checking out as well, but please do not park there while accessing the shrine as it is disrespectful to the temple monks and patrons.

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In the year 806, the holy priest Tokuichi constructed Hattachi-Yakushi Temple as a place of worship for the Buddhist deity who has the ability to ensure the safe voyage of seafarers. The temple grounds are extremely beautiful in spring when the hydrangeas bloom, earning the temple the local nickname ‘Hydrangea Temple’. In front of Hattachi-Yakushi Temple is Bentenjima Island and Shrine, and the Hattachi Coastline, which connects the mainland with the island. The Hattachi Coast is covered in unique gravel, which has traditionally been thought to have healing properties. However, removing a stone and bringing it home can have the opposite effect.

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