Going out to feel the Japanese natural spirit - Kami-

Feel like going on an excursion? Have enough time? Interested in Shinto? Then, the Shirayama Hime Shrine is perfect for your outing! Dedicated to the sacred Mt. Hakusan as the mountain of faith, the Shirayama Hime Shrine is the head shrine of about 3,000 shrines named “Shirayama” in Japan, gathering the deep faith of people from all over the country.

By Azumi Kawahara
Published: March 30, 2011

The locals are familiar with this shrine, calling it "Shirayama-san"

Shirayama Hime Shrine enshrines the god of Izanagi, the goddess of Izanami, and the great god of Shirayama-Hime (Kukurihime-no-Kami). Mt. Hakusan itself has been considered to be the deity of the shrine. hakusan-himejinja-2872.jpgAs Mt. Hakusan is the source of the great rivers, the deity is believed to have divine power over water, which allows for a bountiful harvest of grain.
The locals are familiar with this shrine, calling it "Shirayama-san" (though read differently, "Shirayama" and "Hakusan" use the same characters “白山” in Japanese)

In the first three days of the New Year, many people come here for their first prayer of the year.

The easiest way to the shrine is by car (around a 30 minute drive from the center of Kanazawa).

Getting to Shirayama Hime Shrine may seem a bit inconvenient, although definitely possible. The easiest way to the shrine is by car (around a 30 minute drive from the center of Kanazawa). Although the Kita-Sando (north-side approach) car park gives you easy access to the offering hall (Haiden), I strongly recommend parking your car at the Omote Sando (main approach) car park, as you can admire the tranquil atmosphere of this sacred precinct of the shrine while walking through the trail.

An alternative way is by the local train service “Hokuriku Railway”.

From Nomachi station near the Nishi-Chaya district, take the train to the last stop, Tsurugi station (30mins, \460 one way). From the station, it takes about 30 minutes as you walk along the street. It’s a rather relaxing walk, with a serene and traditional atmosphere bringing you to the shrine. There is also a bus service from Tsurugi station to Kaga Ichinomiya bus stop, the nearest bus stop to the shrine. Taking the local train is a fun choice, but the train schedule is somewhat infrequent, so make sure to check the departure times in advance.
At the Omote Sando entrance of the shrine, you will find the big stone torii stands, a formalized gateway arch signifying a way to a sacred area. Pass the torii and enjoy taking a peaceful walk up to the offering hall (behave calmly and respectfully, of course!).
The quiet echoes of the birds singing and the stream murmuring will take you far away from the bustle of Kanazawa’s urban zone. Take some deep breaths in the grove and you will feel the sansation of your mind purifying. A huge tree bound with straw rope can be seen on the way.
hakusan-himejinja-2892.jpgThis is an 800-year-old cedar, with the rope being called “Shimenawa”, which marks the boundary to something sacred.

hakusan-himejinja-2867.jpgAt the top of the slope, you will see the solemn offering hall over the “Shinmon” gate. Make sure to purify yourself by washing your hands and mouth at the purification spring before approaching the hall.
At the offering hall, throw a coin into the offering box, bow twice, clap your hands twice, pray for a few seconds, and bow deeply once more. If you are not sure how to pray, just look at other people and copy their behavior.
* Refer this page for more information about “Shinto” and how to pray at a shrine.

The summit of Mt. Hakusan also has the so-called Oku-no-miya (back hall)

On the left side of the offering hall, there is a stall which sells various amulets for good health, having a good romantic relationship, positive luck, future prosperity, and many others. It definitely makes for a wonderful souvenir! There is also a souvenir shop at the Omote Sando car park where you can get local products.
It takes about half a day to get to Shirayama Hime Shrine and back to Kanazawa, but the slow journey is also quite pleasant. The summit of Mt. Hakusan also has the so-called Oku-no-miya (back hall) which was completed in 718 and rebuilt in 1988. If you are really keen, another fabulous experience is going to pray at this hall, standing at an altitude of 2702 meters.

Shirayama Hime-Jinja Shrine / Ni-105, San-no-miya-Machi, Hakusan City / Map