Meet a dragon god! A guide to the Eight Great Dragon King God of Water shrine

Since this year is the year of the dragon, we want to reintroduce you to a special Takachiho treasure, the Eight Great Dragon King God of Water shrine (八大龍王水神).

While the shrine is quite small, it is absolutely energy packed and a very special power spot, with visitors coming from all over Japan to pay their respect to the god.

Being as special as it is, one might except information signs in five languages and group loads of tourist! But while there always seems to be a person or two visiting this shrine, is not a main tourist attraction, and the people visiting seem to come here with a purpose.

Also, there are almost no information signs in the area, so pay attention here and we will provide you with all you need to know when visiting this rare shrine.

What is the Eight Great Dragon King God of Water shrine?

The Eight Great Dragon King God of Water shrine like many other shrines in the Takachiho area, is a shrine were no one really know when it was established.

There is a theory that a water god already resided here when the Takachiho legends began and it is believed to have been here for more than 1,300 years. Another theory even says that when Mt. Aso erupted creating the famous Takachiho gorge, this was one of the few fresh springs of water available and since then became the resident of the water god.

From the beginning the god were worshiped here for ruling over the nature and the element water. People would come praying with concerns related to rain and flooding.

Nowadays people come here to pray for victory and success. It is popular for athletes and sport coaches to come here praying, as well as for business owners. Rumor has it that it will boost one’s natural abilities and talents.

★Click here for directions to the Eight Great Dragon King God of Water shrine


How to get there

While the shrine is located a 21-minute walk from the Ama-no-Iwato shrine and there also is a bus stop just for this shrine, the easiest way to get here is by car.

It taked about 15 minutes from Takachiho town and just 5 minutes from Ama-no-Iwato.

Take the prefectual road no. 7 towards Ama-no-Iwato. Turn right when entering Ama-no-Iwato and cross the Ama-no-Iwato bridge onto prefectual road no. 204. From here just follow the road, the road number will change to 207 and shortly after you will come upon a stone monument reading “八大龍王水神” with the shrine lanterns by its side.

If you travel by bus, the bus stop is on the opposite side of the road from the stone monument.

Follow the signs up the hill and you will arrive at a big parking lot and a huge torii gate.

The parking lot is free to use and it is surrounded by lanterns with wishes from various donors. Since the shrines is well visited by famous figures such as athletes and entertainers, why not have a look at the lanterns and see if you recognize any of the names?

Entering the shrine

Before entering onto the shrine grounds, at the end of the parking lot there is a chozuya (Shinto water ablution pavilion). This is actually a newly added chozuya, as an extension of the ancient well.

Purify yourself both physically and mentally by washing your hands and mouth before heading to the torii gate.

Head towards the torii gate and bow upon passing under it.

After passing the torii gate you will come across this small hidden entrance on your left-hand side. Pass under the “shimenawa”, the sacred shinto straw rope, and you will find the ancient well.

It is a quite cramp space, but here you find the original ancient well (古来の井戸). Like the shrine, there is no exact date to how old it is, but it is know to the far older then the one next to the shrine.

If you visit on a day with strong wind and heavy rain, keep an eye out for branches that might fall down!

Part of the shrines uniqueness lies with the untamed trees. Rather then trimming the trees the nature takes priority here and you will soon after the torii gate be greeted by a metal support structure built like a pergola over the walk way.

Moving on, to your left-hand side you will find the information sign of the shrine.

Welcome to the shrine grounds! Let’s head up to the next chozuya (Shinto water ablution pavilion).

Although dragons are seen in many different shrines all over Japan, there is something special about these once. It almost feels like the god is looking back at you.

Look up and admire the elegant yet powerful wooden carving of a dragon, and once again if you want, purify yourself with the water.


Head to the shrine

The sign along the way ask you not to bring pets into the shrine area, as well as to refrain from smoking.

By now you might have noticed, this shrine is indeed a bit different from any shrine you might have visited before. It is completely surrounded by trees making the space inside a bit limited and the air very soothing and reviving.

The first sacred tree is a “E-no-ki”, a Japanese hackberry tree that greets you by the entrance. It is absolutely majestical and wild unlike the sacred trees you would normally see, it is almost covering the entrance torii gate!

The tree is supported in several places since it is leaning to the side, due to its massive size. It have a shimenawa tied around its trunk.

It is believed to be over 500 years old and is imagined by many as a dragon crawling out of the ground. The tree itself is a power spot and while visiting the shrine, many hold there hands on the trunk, paying their respect and praying.

The second sacred tree in the shrine area were a “Tabu-no-Ki”, a Machilus thunbergii, famous for being curved like a dragon raising towards the sky and embracing the shrine.

But when we visited the shrine, we noticed that is had changed shape. With what looks like burn marks on the tree, it has turned into a large stump with a carved dragon head emerging from it.

While sad to see what happened to the once great tree, it do feel refreshing to see that it lives on in its new very different, yet beautiful shape. There are a lot of people praying and placing coins in the mouth of the beautifully carved dragon head.


The shrine well

The shrine well is filled with sacred water. Some people take the clean, clear water home to drink while others wash coins and accessories in the sacred water for good luck. Open the well up, and have a look or a taste yourself!


Main hall and the stone worship site

The main hall is placed infront of the ancient stone worship site that enshrines the Eight Great Dragon King God of Water.

The object of worship is opened to the public only once a year on the day of the shrine festival. Every year on the 17th day of the sixth month according to the lunar calendar a shrine festival is being held here, and it is the one time of the year when the god enshrined here is carried outside on a mikoshi (portable shrine).

Note that photography of the stone worship site is prohibited.

The water god is said to fond of raw eggs and sake. Therefore you will find a lot of sake at the alter as well as a clear case dedicated for eggs.

Pray by the main hall by leaving your offerings and to light some incense sticks as well by the altar. Then proceed to ringing the bells, two bows, two claps and say your prayer and finish with a bow. Although many don’t practice it any more, it is custom to start by introducing name and adress to the god before praying.

Next to the main hall there is a guestbook for the shrine visitors. Do leave a greeting before heading leaving the area.


Good-luck charms and amuletts

Since the shrine is unmanned, the good luck charm and amuletts are kept in a cupboard on the opposite side of the shrine. Next to it you will find table and chairs as well as art works of dragons.

This building is in fact a kagura hall (place for the traditional shinto ritual “kagura” with music and dance) for the area.

The wooden amulets are made from the shrines old torii gate – as sacred as it gets!

You pay by placing the money in the box next to the cupboard.


The Yano store (矢野商店)

The only place were you can buy the sacred sake “Hachiryu” is at the Yano store.  Here you can also buy eggs, sake and incense sticks, everything you might need for the visit!

★Click here for directions to the Yano store

Toilets are located around the corner, just follow the sign next to the vending machine.

Before leaving make sure to bring any trash with you. Exit through the main gate and bow as you leave the grounds.

How do you feel? Overpowered? Hopeful? Relaxed? No matter what you might leave this shrine feeling, by visiting it is surely going to leave you with some good influence.

See the link for the Eight Great Dragon King God of Water shrines official website -> https://www.hachiryu.jp/



Here we introduced you to the Eight Great Dragon King God of Water shrine.

As we have entered the year of the dragon, we encourage you to visit this small yet powerful shrine to greet the water god and pray for victory and success.

The shrine is easy accessed and it quite small, therefore it is perfect if you want to see something different while visiting the famous Ama-no-Iwato shrine. Or, if you have a sports or business goal in your mind you wish to achieve! Or perhaps if you simply just love dragons !

Whatever your ambitions might be, this is one power spot that will give you some help along the way.






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