Nishina Shinmei Shrine

polyD

Dec 8, 2016

Are you done with skiing or snowboarding in Nagano? Stop by the city of Omachi to visit Nishima Shinmei Shrine – a shrine that seems to be untouched by time.

It is Japan’s oldest shrine. However, its actual age is unknown. Although ancient records suggest that it was established in 1192 AD, some speculate that the shrine might have been around since the Heian era (794 - 1185AD).

Did you know that Nishima Shinmei Shrine is also the only Shrine made in the architectural style of Shinmei-zukuri listed as a National Treasure of Japan? Shinmei-zukuri is a way of building using Japanese cypress without any paint on the wood.

At the shrine, you can walk among gigantic old trees like Japanese cypress, pine and fir trees. The trees bring about a solemn and respectful atmosphere here. I’m in awe of the two trees near the entrance of the shrine. They are estimated to be about 700 years old! Their circumference is about 5 meters and they are more than 50 meters tall. There used to be three trees, but one of them, sadly, was uprooted by strong wind.

The forest around Nishima Shinmei Shrine is also listed as a Natural Treasure by Nagano prefecture.

仁科神明宮は日本最古の神明造り(ヒノキを使って木に色を塗らず、木の地肌のままの素材を使って建設する手法)の神社です。

しかも神明造りの神社では唯一の国宝。1192年の古文書においても、すでに創建された年代が不明と記されており、歴史は平安時代(800年ほど前)にまで遡ると考えられている極めて歴史的価値の高い古い神社です。

歴史ある神社にふさわしく、境内には古くからの巨木が林立し荘厳な雰囲気を醸し出しています。仁科神明宮のを取り囲む森は長野県指定天然記念物となっており、なかでも入り口近くの三本杉(1本は突風のために倒木)は周囲5m、樹高50m以上で推定樹齢も700年以上です。その他にも境内にはヒノキやアカマツ・モミなどの巨木が豊富です。

長野県大町市に所在するので近くには白馬などのスキー場が豊富で近年ではオーストリア人を始め外国人スキー客の人気スポット。

スキー・スノボのついでに仁科神明宮を訪れて古い日本に触れてみるのはいかがでしょうか?印象的な出来事になると思います。

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