Historical shrine with a photogenic appeal.

Located in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi about a two-hour drive southwest from Iwakuni is the Akama-Jingu or Akama Shrine. Quite simply it is a stunning structure with striking red exterior wooden work surrounding the white granite foundation that upholds the structure at the entrance of the shrine. Akama-Jingu is a Shinto shrine dedicated to the late child emperor Antoku and his grandmother Nii-no-Ama who both died during the defeat of the Heike during the final battle of the Genpei War (1180-1185 at Dan-no-ura). The shrine itself is styled after the Dragon King’s Palace and at night is lit up brilliantly to provide a striking image against the dark mountain backdrop. At the shrine is a treasure museum that contains valuable Heike relics (entrance fee ¥100) adn there is also a memorial tower. The shrine sits at the front of the waterfront along the Kanmon Strait and its red gate is unmissable.

The shrine is engulfed in mystery and lore. Local fishers and villagers often speak of the spirits of the Heike warriors wandering the grounds and the areas spreading to the waterfront and even the beach. The shrine is famous for the ghost story of Hoichi the Earless – you can learn more about the ghost story here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/shi/kwaidan/kwai03.htm. The grounds are free entry and are perfect for pictures and a snapshot into old history Japan.