Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine Main Torii (Gate)
Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine is located in Shingu City of Wakayama Prefecture. Kumano Hayatama Taisha is one of the three Grand Shrines that comprise the Kumano Sanzan (Kumano Nachi Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha, Kumano Hongu Taisha). Kumano Sanzan is part of the Sacred Sites of Kii Peninsula and connected by the Kumano Kodo (Kumano Ancient Road) Pilgrimage.
Kumano Hayatama Taisha can be easily reached by a fifteen minute brisk walk from the JR Shingu Station. JR Shingu Station is serviced by the Limited Express trains Ocean Arrow and Super Kuroshio. If the trains services are not available for whatever reason, you can always take a Bus from the JR Kii Katsuura Station to Shingu City.
Legend has it that in the ancient times three Shingo Gods (Kami); Kumano-Hayatama-no-Omikami, Kumano-Musubi-no-Omikami, Ketsumi-Miko-omikami came down from the heavens to the sacred rock named Gobiki at Mt. Kamikura.
Kumano Hayatama Taisha Grand Shrine Seal
This sacred was later moved to the Shingu City and a shrine was built around it. It came to be known as the Kumano Hayatama Taisha. The name "Shingu" in Japanese means "New Hall" or "First Hall", signifying the Shrine that was present in this land before the city was developed around it. There are more than 1200 objects of worship that are present inside this Shrine. As part of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage, the pilgrims would travel between the Grand Shrines of the Kumano Sanzan by walk. The three Grand Shrines are located about 20-40 kilometers apart (Kumano Nachi Taisha is in the Nachi Katsuura City and Kumano Hongu Taisha is in Kii Tanabe City).
As with all other Shinto tradition based Shrines in Japan, before the seventh and eight centuries, Kumano Hayatama Taisha's principal faith is the Nature Worship. But as the religion of Buddhism became more popular the Shinto Deities were exchanged into Buddhism, which came be called with many names such as Ryobo Shinto or Shugendo. The main belief in this transformation is called Gongen (as with Kumano Shrines it is called as Kumano Gongen). Gongen belief states that "all Shinto Kami (Gods) are temporary incarnations of either Buddha or Bodhisattva". This was introduced by the Monk Kobo Daishi, who is the founder of the Shingon Faith of Japanese Buddhism. With this new thinking, both religions (Shintoism and Buddhism) were able to co-exist and flourish in Japan.
Kumano Hayatama Taisha Main Worship Hall
Based on the Gongen belief, the Kumano-Hayatama-no-Omikami takes the form of the Bodhisattva of healing, Musubi-Omikami takes the form of thousand armed Kannon Bodhisattva and Ketsumi-Miko-Omikami takes the form of Amtabha Bodhisattva. As this Kumano Gongen faith became wide spread, there are many Shrines built all over Japan out of which about seventy percent of these Shrines became part of the Kumano Hayatama Grand Shrine.
Here is a video of the Kumano Hayatama Grand Shrine: