Bentenjima

Bentenjima

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.

Nearby

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Aquamarine Fukushima

Aquamarine Fukushima is an ‘environmental aquarium’ that exhibits aquatic creatures in environments which closely mimic their natural habitats.As well as being an aquarium, Aquamarine Fukushima is also home to a research center and offers educational information about sustainability and conservation.The main exhibits are two gigantic tanks that extend from the second to the fourth floor, reproducing Shiome no Umi, an area of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture where the Kuroshio (Black Current) and the Oyashio (Kurile Current) meet.Visitors can enjoy walking through a transparent tunnel whilst being surrounded by the wealth of marine life found in Shiome no Umi, which includes vast schools of sardines and bonito. On the fourth floor, visitors can also visit a calming botanical garden which exhibits the various plant life of Fukushima Prefecture.In addition, guests can see over the top of the main tank, a great spot to appreciate the sheer scale of the water and the curious marine life below. There is also a touch tank where interested visitors can try touching starfish and other small sea critters.Since its establishment, Aquamarine Fukushima has conducted research into an ancient species of fish called coelacanths, and its findings are exhibited on the first floor in a corner entitled the World of Coelacanths. Here visitors can view an anatomical specimen of the rarely seen coelacanth and watch exclusive footage of living coelacanths.There are events throughout the year, with many activities for children and families to enjoy together including a fish maze, art festivals, and a fishing experience where you can catch real fish to be fried for lunch!If catching your own lunch doesn’t appeal to you, you are in luck as there is a seafood market selling fresh seafood just a 10-minute walk away!The seafood market is located within Iwaki Lalamew, a shopping center that also includes restaurants where you can dine on locally sourced, freshly caught fish.

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History & Culture

Kunitama Shrine

Kunitama Shrine (國魂神社) is located in Iwaki City, in the coastal area of Fukushima. Three deities are enshrined at Kunitama Shrine: Okuninushi (the god of nation-building, said to be the founder of Japan); Suserihime-no-Mikoto (the wife of Okuninushi) and Shohikono. The shrine is said to have been built in the year 806, and was renovated in 1942. The temple bell was designated as a tangible cultural property of the city of Iwaki in 1982. There is also a preserved cedar tree.Several events are celebrated in the shrine, such as a New Year’s Day Festival, a Rice Planting Festival, and other prayer festivals. During the summer, the shrine is beautifully decorated with colorful wind chimes. Photos: Iwaki Tourism & Community Development Bureau (一社)いわき観光まちづくりビューロー

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Iwaki Yumoto Onsen

This well-known hot spring is thought to be one of the oldest hot springs in Japan. The list of most ancient springs also includes Dogo Onsen (Ehime Prefecture) and Arima Onsen (Hyogo Prefecture). It is said that Iwaki Yumoto Onsen as first used for its hot spring water around one thousand years ago. Water is pumped into the numerous hotels and ryokan in the town at a rate of five tons per minute. The springs have various benefits such as having skin-beautifying properties.

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Hattachi-Yakushi Temple
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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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