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Nou Hakusan Shrine

Maritime Shrine with 2000 Years of History While its exact date of founding is lost to history, shrine records state that Nou Hakusan Shrine was founded over 2000 years ago during the reign of Emperor Sujin, 10th emperor of Japan. The current main sanctuary (honden) of Hakusan Shrine was built in 1515 and is a Nationally Registered Important Cultural Property. The shrine contains a number of relics of Hakusan Worship and is a bridge to the Nou Region's ancient history. The Itsukushima Shrine on nearby Benten Rock is considered a satellite shrine of Hakusan. Despite being dedicated to Shinto worship, the shrine also houses several important Buddhist relics, a remnant of the time when the lines between these two religions were blurred. The nearby Nou Museum of History and Folklore features a collection of tools and other artifacts from Nou's history. Sacred Water of Nou Hakusan Shrine Located behind the large worship hall is a sacred spring which flows from Mt. Oyama. This water is particularly delicious and is a popular source of drinking water for the locals. Spring Grand Festival The shrine's largest festival is held every year on April 24th. It features bugaku court dancing passed down over the centuries. This performance is unique to Hakusan Shrine and is registered as a National Cultural Property.

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  • History and Culture
  • Nature and Best Views

Benten-iwa Rock

Sacred Rock and Symbol of the Nou Region This massive rock looms over the Nou Coast next to Route 8. Long worshiped by local sailors as a manifestation of the goddess of the sea, the lighthouse atop the rock continues to act as an important guide to safe harbor. The rock itself was formed at the bottom of the sea by an underwater volcano. The Akebonobashi Bridge connects the rock to shore and a small shrine on the rock is dedicated to Ichikushima, the goddess of the sea.

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  • Nature and Best Views
  • All Seasons

Tottoko Rock

An unusual rock formation off the coast of Nou Next to Marine Dream Nou, this rock's name means 'Chicken Rock' in the Itoigawa Dialect of Japanese. The rock looks remarkably like a chicken and at the right time of the year even appears to be eating the setting sun! The sunset views here are breathtakingly beautiful and a popular subject of photographers.

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  • Nature and Best Views
  • Spring

Kotakigawa Jade Gorge

Named for the crystal clear Kotaki River which runs through it, the Kotakigawa Jade Gorge is a stunningly beautiful jade gorge at the base of Mt. Myojo (1188 m). It is one of Itoigawa's two jade gorges, alongside the Omigawa Jade Gorge. Discovered in 1938, the massive jade boulders strewn throughout this canyon astounded researchers as they were the first, and to this day the largest, discovery of natural jade in Japan. Today, the Kotakigawa Jade Gorge is protected as a National Natural Monument and its beauty is enjoyed by thousands of visitors each year.  Enjoy outstanding views of Mt. Myojo's limestone face and deep gorge below from the Kotakigawa Jade Gorge Observation Deck or take a closer look along the riverbank at the Kotakigawa Jade Gorge Revetment Park. In addition to walking and hiking trails, visitors can enjoy the Kotakigawa Jade Gorge Fishing Park, Takanami-no-Ike Pond Highland Center, campgrounds and more. The Kotakigawa Jade Gorge is a National Natural Monument of Japan The collection, damage or abuse of minerals, plants or animals is strictly prohibited. Please help us as we preserve our natural heritage.

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  • Nature and Best Views
  • Spring
  • Summer

Tsukimizu-no-Ike Pond

Sacred Pond Famous for Wisteria Blossoms The forest surrounding Tsukimizu-no-Ike is filled with wild wisteria plants. When they bloom it is said that they are so dazzling that they block out the reflection of the moon on the water, giving this pond its name which means "The Pond Which Cannot See the Moon." A small shrine located in the middle of the pond, dedicated to the Goddess Benten. It is said to bless women with safe childbirth. A number of hiking trails around the pond take visitors on a tour of the many unusual boulders which are strewn about this mystical forest.

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  • Nature and Best Views

Fudotaki Falls

Sacred waterfalls deep in the mountains This 70m tall, 3-tiered waterfall is the focus of an ancient legend about a dragon-god said to live in its basin. It's said that if the basin is dirtied or goes cloudy, the valley below will flood with the dragon's wrath. The area around the waterfall features a park, footpath, campground and more and is a popular place to escape the heat during summer.

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  • History and Culture

Gyofu Souma House

Traditional Itoigawa-style Townhouse and Birthplace of Famed Poet Gyofu Souma This old-fashioned machiya-style townhouse was the home of Gyofu Souma, an Itoigawa-born scholar, poet and lyricist who left a lasting impression on modern Japanese literature. He is best known today for having written hundreds of school songs in his lifetime, including the song of his alma mater, the internationally renowned Waseda University in Tokyo. His house is preserved as it was when he lived in it and contrains a number of exhibits on his life. It is also an excellent example of Itoigawa's version of the machiya, a type of house once commonly seen in urban areas throughout Japan in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Itoigawa Museum of History & Folklore

Collection of artifacts and artwork from Itoigawa's History Also known as the Gyofu Souma Memorial Hall, this museum's impressive collection of artifacts largely come from the private collection of the late local poet and scholar, Gyofu Souma. In addition to his writings and belongings, the collection includes artifacts collected from Gyofu's research into Itoigawa's history and the Niigata-born poet-monk Ryokan. The collection is so large that it cannot all be displayed at once, so the contents on display are always changing. Contact us for information about upcoming exhibits!

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  • History and Culture
  • Spring

Itoigawa Fighting Festival

Fighting Shrines Officially known as the Amatsu Shrine Spring Grand Festival, this festival can be seen every April 10 & 11 at Amatsu Shrine, a short walk from Itoigawa Station. Centuries old, the festival is held to pray for a bountiful harvest and good catch of fish in the year ahead. The festival's popular name, the Itoigawa Fighting Festival, comes from the stirring omikoshi fight held in the morning of April 10 between two teams representing the local districts of Teramachi and Oshiage. Carrying 600 kilogram omikoshi shrines, the teams chase each other around the shrine grounds, clashing their shrines together in a dramatic display of strength. The shrines are often damaged in the fray as nearby spectators run for cover. After roughly an hour of fighting, the shrines are brought before the priest who is said to consult with the local gods to determine the winning team. It is said that the two shrines represent male and female gods, and so the fighting of the shrines is not really fighting, but a display of fertility which blesses the participants with large, prosperous families. It is also said that the winning district predicts the season ahead: if Oshiage wins, it will be a good catch of fish, if Teramachi wins it will be a bountiful harvest. Bugaku Court Dances As the dust settles and the crowds calm, the attention moves to the large stage in the middle of the shrine grounds. On this stage, local children and adults perform 10 ancient bugaku dances. Bugaku are special, elegant dances which were traditionally held at events hosted by the Imperial Court or at important temples and shrines. The unique bugaku dances performed during the Amatsu Shrine Spring Grand Festival have been handed down over the centuries by local families and today are recognized as a Nationally Important Cultural Folk Property. Don't miss an opportunity to experience the powerful elegance of this ancient tradition. April 10 April 11 10:30 a.m. Arrival of the Gods 1:00 p.m. Bugaku Court Dances 11:00 a.m. Running of the Shrines 5:30 p.m. Festival End 11:30 a.m. Fighting of the Shrines     12:30 p.m. Running of the Shrines     1:00 p.m. Bugaku Court Dances     5:30 p.m. Festival End    

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  • All Seasons

Amatsu Shrine

Amatsu Shrine is said to have been founded during the reign of Emperor Keikō, about 2000 years ago. The shrine is dedicated to the god Amenigishi-Kuninigishi-Amatsuhiko-Hiko-Ho-no-Ninigi-no-Mikoto  (or Ninigi for short!) Ninigi was the grandson of the sun goddess, Amaterasu. After the celestial kami took control of Japan from the terrestrial kami, Ninigi sent by his grandmother to establish a dynasty and plant the first rice fields. For this reason, worship of Ninigi is often closely related to the harvest. Amatsu Shrine's haiden--or worship hall--features an impressive thatched roof, typical of those seen in Japan's snowy region. The steeply pitched roofs allow the snow to naturally fall off the roof, preventing it from collapsing under the weight. Thatched roofs require regular maintenance and must be rethatched every few years, an expensive and time-consuming process, so it is rare to see buildings still using thatching in Modern Japan. Behind the worship hall is the main sanctuary--or honden--of Amatsu Shrine. It is flanked to the left by Nunagawa Shrine, dedicated to the worship of local goddess Princess Nunkawa and her husband, Ōkuninushi-no-Mikoto. Each April 10 and 11, Amatsu Shrine holds its Spring Grand Festival, the Itoigawa Kenka Matsuri--Itoigawa Fightinf Festival--in which two portable omikoshi shrines are rammed together in a display of strength and bravery.

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