JAPAN TRAVEL: Ryugu Shrine, A Matchmaking Spot in Kagoshima
Ryugu Shrine is a popular place of worship in Nagasakibana—the southernmost point of the Satsuma Peninsula in South Kagoshima.
The shrine’s vivid red exterior makes it truly standout amidst the otherwise soothing colors of nature. Painted with the color of love, Ryugu Shrine has drawn tourists wishing to pray for good fortune when it comes to romance.
This shrine is a known place of worship for matchmaking, too. More popular to female tourists, there’s a dedicated area where visitors may write their wishes on a seashell and leave it at the statue.
Aside from being known as a shrine of love, locals closely associate Ryugu Shrine to the widely-known Japanese folklore called The Legend of Urashima Taro.
The Legend of Urashima Taro tells the story of Taro, a fisherman who had rescued a turtle. As a reward, he was welcomed to the undersea called Ryugu-jo (Dragon Palace), wherein he met Princess Otohime.
After spending a few days in the underworld, Taro wished to return to land. The princes initially did not want to let go of Taro, but she eventually let go. As a parting gift, the princess gave him a box (tamatebako). This gift was said to protect Taro from harm, but he was told not to open it. As soon as he returned to land, all the people Taro knew had perished. Taro had forgotten about the princess’ instructions, and when he did, it turned him to a 300-year old man.
This tale has various versions across Japan but it still remains to be one of the most popular legends the country has. It is said that the present location of the shrine was where Urashima Taro was born, thus its relation to the folklore. Every summer, sea turtles lay their eggs in this area too which will further remind you of the folklore.
Aside from the eye-catching shrine, tourists go to this part of Kagoshima for sightseeing. This location provides a beautiful view of Mount Kaimondake, sometimes called Satsuma Fuji due to its resemblance to Mount Fuji. A lighthouse perfectly stands at the far end of the peninsula that adds charm to the destination. Tourists love to go here a few hours before nightfall, for a leisurely stroll with a magnificent sunset view overlooking the sea.
How to get here
By car: From Nishi-Oyama Station, it takes a 15-minute drive.
By public transport: Take the Kagoshima Kotsu Bus at the Yamagawa Station on JR Ibusuki-Makurazaki line. Get off at Nagasakibana bus stop. From there, it takes a three-minute walk towards Cape Nagasakibana.
Address: 1578-8 Yamagawa Okachiyogamizu, Ibusuki City, Kagoshima Prefecture
Operating Hours: Open 24/7
Contact: +81 993 – 35 – 0811
Admission is free