In Wakayama, the Kii Mountains are believed to be a special region inhabited by the gods. After the importation of Buddhism from China, the influence of Buddhism and its teachings spread all over Japan. Kumano became a sacred place reflecting the fusion of Shinto and Buddhism.

Kumano Sanzan, the three main shrines of Kumano Hongu, Kumano Nachi and Kumano Hayatama, is one example of this religious integration.

Before visiting the Shingu area, I firstly visited Hana no Iwaya in Mie Prefecture. This was said to be the origin of gods who were listed in Nihon shoki, one of the oldest Japanese history books from the 8th century.

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Hana no Iwaya from the sea

Hana no Iwaya has a huge object of worship. You can feel how big it is from the Kumano sea. The old Japanese respected nature and wondered how such a huge rock could be located in the front of the sea. Then, they started to believe that gods were there.

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Kumano sea

Kumano sea

Kumano sea

When I visited Shichiri beach, the waves were very high and swimming was forbidden.

Entrance of Hana no Iwaya

Entrance of Hana no Iwaya

Path to Hana no Iwaya

Path to Hana no Iwaya

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Object of Hana no Iwaya