Gorgeous photos show an otherworldly shrine hidden away in the heart of Kyushu.

Open any guide book to Japan and you’ll find pages upon pages devoted to the many shrines and temples dotted across the country, from the tiny shrine that looks as though it hasn’t changed in hundred of years nestled amongst the skyscrapers that have sprung up around it, to the more unusual shrines that celebrate moneythe beauty (or dangly parts) of the human form, or some that are just plain creepy.

Surveys of visitors to Japan often find that shrines are one of the top places to visit during their stay, but spend an extended time in Japan and and one shrine may begin to blend in with another in your memories. Soon you start spending all your time looking for new extremes of shrine to get your shrine fix, each time the euphoria slightly shorter and less satisfying. Fortunately a Japanese Twitter user recently posted some amazing photos of a shrine in Kyushu so beautiful and magical that even the most hardened shrine-bagger can get their hit.

The stunningly ethereal Kamishikimikumanoza Shrine, which Twitter user @stick_fgo strongly recommends to any lover of shrines, can be found in the southern part of Aso District in Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. Kamishikimikumanoza Shrine is, as well as being a mouthful, more than five kilometres (three miles) from the nearest station, Takamori Station, the last stop on a minor line. While that makes it rather harder to get to than some famous shrines in Kyoto or other large cities, if these photos are anything to go by it would be well worth the trip. Especially when you consider that the area is home to some fantastic scenery (including the now closed ‘Road to Laputa’) and that Kumamon lives just down the (40-something kilometre-long) street.

The photo of the shrine gate and trees wrapped in mist gives the scene an otherworldly appearance. You can imagine what it must look like at night, and why so many ghost stories are associated with shrines. Another Twitter user, @tsudukihakotira, claiming to be the photographer behind one of the photos in @stick_fgo’s tweet, even provided a higher quality version of one of the snaps to the thread. The lush, primaeval forests give the shrine a real sense of timeless tranquility.

Despite the remote location, it turned out some other Japanese social media users had visited the shrine and taken some beautiful photos of the shrine time seemed to have forgot.


▼ The shrine is also beautiful in winter, capped in snow.

If we can drag him away from Starbucks, maybe we can get Mr. Sato to give us a lift down to Kyushu in his car. Failing that, at least we have the photos and yet another entry for our collective bucket lists. While those photos should satiate us for now, we’ll soon be in need of a new shrine high. Where to next?

Source: Twitter/@stick_fgo
Featured image: Twitter/tsudukihakotira