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Famous as Most Dangerous Shrine in Japan -Otayama Shrine in Setana-

March 1st, 2016

Otayama Shrine (太田山神社) is in Setana town located in the northwestern part of Hakodate city. This is the shrine in connection with Mr. Enku (円空), famous sculptor of Buddhist images, and it is famous as the most dangerous shrine in Japan. Because there are a large shrine gate and a parking space along Hokkaido Route 740, I think that it is easy to find it. There are Ota Shrine (太田神社) and Enku Buddhist Temple (円空仏堂) near the large shrine gate, and there are a restroom and a parking lot besides Enku Buddhist Temple. By the way, a enshrined deity is Sarutahiko-no-mikoto (猿田彦命). Admission free. The parking lot is free of charge.

Only Parking Space in Front of Shrine
Otayama Shrine in Setana
Nice Scenery
Otayama Shrine in Setana
Outer Ota Shrine
Otayama Shrine in Setana
Okushiri Island from Outer Ota Shrine
Otayama Shrine in Setana

Originally Ainu God called Ohotamokai (オホタカモイ) lived in the Mt. Otasan (太田山), and it seems to be the beginning of Ota shrine that Mr Nobuhiro Takeda (武田信広), an original forefather of Matsumae Domain (松前), gave the Mt. Otasan a title such as the Ota Daigongen (太田大権現 * a title given to Shinto gods by believers) in 1454. Then, Mr. Enku worked on the carving of Buddhist statues at a cave almost from 1661 to 1666, and Mr. Mokujiki (木喰) worked on the carving of the Buddhist statues at the cave in 1778, too.

Enku Buddhist Temple
Otayama Shrine in Setana

Because it is said to be the most dangerous shrine in Japan, various TV program seems to often visit here. The topical tourist attraction can be said. Mt. Otasan is 485 m high. A cave is located around 430 m above sea level in the vicinity of the mountaintop, and Mr. Enku stayed here and worked on the carving of Buddhist statues once. The Otasan shrine building is enshrined at this cave now. Visitors must get over many trials to go and worship there. It will take about 3 hours to get there and back. The visitors should bring water of 500 ML - 1 L. I regret not being able to drink the water. It will be still better if the visitors bring security equipments such as a insect repellent and bear-avoiding bells.

Otayama Shrine
Otayama Shrine in Setana

The Japan's most dangerous reason is because the front approach to shrine is alomost rough path and many stairs and rough path are steeper than the common approach to shrine. Furthermore, the visitors may meet with a wild brown bear or falling rocks and may be attacked by mamushi and insects. The risks are varied depending on seasons. One thing I can say is that there is a risk in any case.

Gaol to Go to Mountains of Top Right Corner
Otayama Shrine in Setana

Besides the shrine gate, a signboard, stating "Otayama Shrine does not take responsibility for the accidents that visitors climb to worship in this site", is put up. Please be careful not to cause the accident.

Shrine Building at That Hole
Otayama Shrine in Setana

At first I thought steep stone steps with about 45 degrees were in danger. Ropes are provided as a safety equipment, the visitors climb the steep stone steps with using the ropes. It was like games such as Tv programs, the Takeshi's Castle (風雲たけし城) and SASUKE (サスケ), but I became strained because I was in danger of my life.

Stairs with Lean of about 45°
Otayama Shrine in Setana
I Can Climb a Little Easily with Using Rope
Otayama Shrine in Setana
Slope Does Not Look Steep when I Overlook
Otayama Shrine in Setana

After going up the stairs, I went ahead through a trail path made of roots of trees and soil along ropes. There was a ladder iron on the way, too, and I thought that it was dangerous. But, this dangerous was better than other dangerous with hindsight in retrospect.

Athletic Begins Here
Otayama Shrine in Setana
Rough Trail
Otayama Shrine in Setana
Worshiper Climbs
Otayama Shrine in Setana
I Look up at Iron Ladder
Otayama Shrine in Setana
I Overlook Iron Ladder. Iron Ladder in Air
Otayama Shrine in Setana
I Make My Way along Rope
Otayama Shrine in Setana

Several stone Buddha images came into my eyes when I climbed the trail path. I thought that I might be near a goal at that time, but about two third of the distance remained. I had a long way to go. A signboard, stating "Warning: Falling or fallen rocks", is built, too. Rocks were falling actually, visitors should be really careful.

Stone Buddhist Images Get into My Eyes at Very Beginning
Otayama Shrine in Setana
Rocks Really Fall
Otayama Shrine in Setana

The shrine gate (鳥居) and the shrine building (社殿) came into my eyes when I climbed for a while. I thought whether I reached the goal finally, but I got excited over nothing. This building is the shrine building named Nyonindo (女人堂 * Women's Shrine) and used to be closed to women because Ainu God lived in this mountain once. Therefore the Nyonindo was built because women were able to climb only here. It is the same as Cape Kamui (神威岬), too. Of course, women can climb till the last now, too.

Nyonindo (Women's Shrine). Almost Halfway
Otayama Shrine in Setana
Rugged Mountain Path Stretches Out
Otayama Shrine in Setana

The shrine gate came into my eyes when I climb the steep rough trail. This is an entrance of an iron bridge to the cave. I couild give myself a break, but true risks lie ahead. While I was careful about slippery floor of iron bridge, I reached under the cave. Iron rings linked togheter were hanged on the wall of rocks with around 9 m in height to the cave. Visitors must climb up the cliff using those iron rings. Many visitors seem to return here. I understand how that feels, too. A view from here is comfortable, too. However, I decided to climb it to reach the goal because I came here all the way. I absolutely looked at only my hands without looking at the bottom. I was scared, but I could climb the wall of rocks for about 5 minutes.

Last Shrine Gate
Otayama Shrine in Setana
It Looks like Cliff When I Look Back
Otayama Shrine in Setana
Iron Bridge Is Established. Watch Your Step. Floor Is Slippery
Otayama Shrine in Setana
Worshiper Climbs Cliff Using Iron Rings Linked Togheter
Otayama Shrine in Setana
View Is Good, too
Otayama Shrine in Setana
Otasan Shrine Building Come into My Eyes
Otayama Shrine in Setana
We Must Climb Cliff with 9 m in Height
Otayama Shrine in Setana
I Look Up Large Rocks Come into My Eyes
Otayama Shrine in Setana
Position Relation Between Iron Bridge and Hole Is This
Otayama Shrine in Setana
Afetr I Hesitated, I Climb
Otayama Shrine in Setana

There is the shrine building in the cave that Mr. Enku and Mr. Mokujiki stayed, and the visitors wrote their wishes and dedicated those. The cave is small and it is the size that 4 people seem to enter. But the beautiful Okushiri Island (奥尻島) was looked over from here. As for paying a visit to the shrine, this is the Japan's most dangerous shrine, but it is the shrine that visitors may gain most satisfaction from the experience in Japan. Everyone, please take care of yourself and enjoy the paying a visit to the shrine.

Otasan Shrine Building at Cave
Otayama Shrine in Setana
Okushiri Island Can Be Looked over from Cave
Otayama Shrine in Setana
This Stake Supports Iron Rings. Thanks.
Otayama Shrine in Setana
What I Dread Most Is Return
Otayama Shrine in Setana

Atmosphere of Otayama Shrine Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Otayama Shrine

Admission fee Free of charge
Parking lot A free parking is provided (5 cars).
Business hour Open 24 hours
Regular closing day Open all year round
Telephone number +81-137-84-5406
Home page Home page is here
Mapcode 943 364 229*01

List of Accommodations

Refer to following websites for the accommodations around Otayama Shrine.

Onsen Hotel Kitahiyama(温泉ホテル きたひやま)    
Awabisanso(あわび山荘)    
Minshuku Mathunoya(民宿 松乃屋)      
Minshuku Nagaiso(民宿 ながいそ)      

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Comment

  1. good! hokkaido! says:

    Hi, Wendy!
    Thank you for your comment.
    I was afraid of the mountain climbing, too.
    But I succeeded in worshiping at the shrine, and got a sense of accomplishment.

  2. Wendy says:

    My legs are jittery just by looking at the pictures.
    Congrats for trying to visit here and share the pictures with us

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