Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine – The Complete Guide

The Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine, nestled in the lush cypress forests on the slopes of Mt. Aso in Kyushu, is a captivating spiritual haven. Its mystical pathway, lined with over a hundred moss-covered stone lanterns, offers a serene and enchanting journey into Japan’s rich cultural heritage.

Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine

The Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine is one of the most incredible shrines in Kyushu. The shrine sits beneath a cypress forest on the outer slopes of Mt Aso. Walking up to the shrine is nothing short of magical, you pass by 100 moss-covered stone lanterns that line the steps up to the shrine.

Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine Details

How to Get to the Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine

The Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine is in the Kumamoto Prefecture of Kyushu Island in Japan.

As with most places in Kyushu, the best way to get to the shrine is by renting a car.

Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine from Kumamoto: The closest city to the Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine is Kumamoto. The drive from Kumamoto is 51 km and takes 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine from Fukuoka: The drive from Fukuoka is 148 km and takes 2 hours and 20 minutes. If you’re driving from Fukuoka, I recommend stopping at Daikanbō Lookout and Mt. Nakadake along the way.

Best Way to Rent a Car in Japan

When we rent a car in Japan, we personally recommend and ALWAYS use Klook. They offer both local and international rental cars, so you always get the best deal possible.

Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine Map Location

Best Time to Visit the Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine

The best times of year to visit the Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine are late spring and early autumn. Summertime can be nice as well, but it tends to be a bit hot and muggy in the area around the shrine in the summer.

Winter can be lovely at the shrine. The steps get blanketed in snow and you’ll likely not find anyone else around. However, the shrine is at a higher elevation so winter will be prohibitively cold and snowfall could make it difficult to get to the shrine.

The best time of day to visit the Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine is mid-morning to mid-afternoon. The tree canopy tends to block out most sunlight in the early morning and late afternoon, so mid-day is the best time to visit the shrine.

If you visit the shrine on a clear day, rays of sunlight will extend from the trees to the walkway, providing an epic backdrop for beautiful photos.

Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine sun rays

Our Experience at the Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine

We visited the Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine during our 6-day camper van trip around Kyushu. We have a video of our visit to the shrine on YouTube.

We highly recommend at least renting a car to explore Kyushu, since public transportation around the island is sparse.

If you’re interested in renting a camper van to explore Kyushu, we believe that’s the best way to explore Japan’s countryside. You can check out our guide to van life in Japan if you want to know what touring Japan in a camper van is like.

⛩️ Did you know? The Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine was the setting for the anime Hotarubi no Mori e.

We visited the shrine in the early autumn during the afternoon and parked across the street in the free parking lot. The free parking lot is across the street from the shrine’s entrance and had plenty of space when we visited.

As we walked up the steps to the shrine, the sunshine broke through the canopy of trees and cast its rays upon the stone lanterns and steps to the shrine. The sun’s rays were absolutely beautiful and provided the perfect atmosphere for taking photos on the shrine’s steps.

Speaking of the steps, the steps don’t go straight up the mountain to the shrine. Instead, the stepped pathway makes a slight bend about 1/3rd of the way up, so you can’t see the top of the shrine from the beginning of the stairway.

If you’re coming to the shrine for photos, we recommend walking until you go past the bend in the pathway. That way, you’ll see the top of the stairs and the shrine in the backdrop of your photos.

Once we reached the shrine at the top of the steps, we noticed that there was another trail behind the shrine that went up the hill. We saw what looked to be an opening through the mountain in the distance, which turned out to be an archway. Our curiosity got the better of us so we decided to check it out.

We later found out that the archway has a name: Ugetoiwa. The legend says that Ugetoiwa was created when a demon escaped from the rock. The rock arch has become a Japanese symbol for overcoming difficulty. It’s said that if creating the hole in the rock is possible, then any challenge can be overcome.

The trail up to the archway is a short walk uphill. The path zigzags up the hill behind the shrine, but it’s no more than a 10-15 minute walk at most. You’ll be able to see the archway in the distance so you know how far of a walk you have left.

Ugetoiwa rock arch at Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine

If you walk below the archway, the trees are quite overgrown, blocking any sort of view out to the other side. Even if the trees weren’t there, I doubt that there would be much of a view with the way that the landscape is shaped.

The archway itself is fairly large, but not too spectacular that would warrant a visit alone. It’s at best a side trip from the shrine if you have a bit of extra time. 

Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine Tour

Getting to the Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine by public transport is difficult, so unless you have a car, the best way to get there is by taking a Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine Day Tour from Fukuoka. The tour also goes to the Takachiho Gorge, which is an epic waterfall – arguably the most beautiful waterfall in Japan.

CLICK HERE to check rates and availability for the Kamishikimi Kumanoimasu Shrine Day Tour.

Trey Lewis is an outdoor enthusiast. Whether its hiking knife-edge ridges or just fishing by the river, Trey isn't afraid to get dirty in search of the next adventure.

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