This route lets you enjoy a drive through the areas where Okuni Shrine (Enshu Morimachi) and Mitsuke Tenjin Shrine (Iwata) are located. See cultural sights, collect stamps, and savor the local cuisine!

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This one-day route takes you through signature sites of the Chutoen, Shizuoka region, such as Okuni Shrine and Mitsuke Tenjin Shrine, Koshoji Temple (also known as Kikyo Temple), and Ioji Temple, also known as the “Moss Temple of Tokai.” Enjoy a full tour through Enshu Morimachi and Iwata to see the temples and shrines. Soak in the culture, fill up your stamp booklet, and have lunch at a classic tempura shop, topping it off with unique desserts that are all the rage.

S

JR Kakegawa Station

30 minutes by car

1

Okuni Shrine and Okuni Kotomachi Yokocho

10 minutes by car

2

Rokuon-zan Koshoji Temple

30 minutes by car

3

The Old Akamatsu Memorial House

1 minute on foot

4

Ajisho Tenhiro (tempura)

5 minutes by car

5

Old Mitsuke School

5 minutes by car

6

Yanahime Shrine ( Mitsuke Tenjin Shrine )

5 minutes by car

7

Gyokkado Imanoura Honten (pudding & gelato)

10 minutes by car

8

Kamadasan Kongo-in Ioji Temple

30 minutes by car

G

JR Kakegawa Station (rental car return)

Sample route guide

Haruka Miyagawa(Iwata City Tourism Ambassador)

We enjoyed chatting with friends while taking a leisurely stroll through the temples, snapping photos of nature and among the flowers, and visiting shrines to say a prayer. It was a refreshing trip out with the girls.
Nature is unique in that it has something new to offer each season. You can pick out specific destinations and also stop by shops you encounter on the way. That’s what makes a driving tour so fun. In addition, getting a hands-on feeling of the local history and culture was a very enjoyable, out-of-the-ordinary experience!

Miyako Ochiai(Morimachi Spokesmodel)

Morimachi is home to many tea houses, so during the new tea season, the fragrant aroma of tea goes up from around tea plants near Kikyo Temple. This makes not just the destination, but the journey, all that much better. The cute image of Shippei can be found everywhere throughout Iwata, and this route lets us experience a wide range of souvenirs and delicious sweets. Taking a tour to collect stamps is fun because each shrine and temple is unique, and some of the booklets feature cute motifs like ceremonial mallets or balloon flowers. I think I’m getting hooked on collecting stamps!

START

JR Kakegawa Station

30 minutes by car

1Okuni Shrine and Okuni Kotomachi Yokocho

The path is lined with massive cedar trees hundreds of years old, and clean air that is a joy just to walk around in.

Pick up a stamp booklet and stamp to commemorate your visit!

Okuni Shrine is an ancient shrine approximately 1,460 years old. It is famous for granting blessings in terms of matchmaking, happiness and prosperity, and good fortune and warding off evil. The main hall and worship hall are built in the orthodox Shinto shrine style, with ancient cedar trees here that befit the image of this being an ancient forest. Enjoy the solemnity and comfort of the open air. The tree at the back of the shrine office is around 800 years old and is said to confer blessings in matchmaking, so many people come to pay their respects. During the annual festival in April, the Junidan Fugaku dance, an important intangible folk property that has continued for around 1,300 years, is performed. In spring, see the cherry blossoms and new greenery. In summer, enjoy the irises. And in fall, see the autumn leaves. This noted shrine has something to offer throughout the seasons. Suggestions for your return trip: Next to the torii gate is the Okuni Kotomachi Yokocho, where longstanding tea houses and shops line the street. You can walk around and eat snacks like “good luck dumplings” and sweets made with local matcha.

Address:3956-1 Ichimiya, Morimachi, Shuchi-gun, Shizuoka Prefecture
Inquiries:0538-89-7302(Okunijinja)

Say a prayer for a good match at the hall of worship. This could be good connections in work, good financial success, interpersonal bonds, or much more.

Take a stroll through the temple on the banks of the Miyagawa River. In summer, children play in the water, and in fall, you’ll see recital contests with the autumn leaves as a backdrop.

Kotomachi Yokocho is lined with cafes and souvenir shops at which you can eat Western-style desserts and various light meals.

Point!

Okuni Shrine is well known as a site that confers blessings in matchmaking, so it’s a good place to say a wish for finding a good match. The shrine is lovely during the autumn leaf and spring cherry blossom seasons. If you are lucky, you may happen upon a wedding ceremony taking place. This spot is highly recommended for ladies looking for love! Kotomachi Yokocho has lovely tea houses selling authentic drinks and sweets that would be great for a date. (Miyako Ochiai)
As soon as you set foot through the torii gates, you enter a sacred site in which even the air feels different, like being transported through time. In addition to paying your respects, you can receive a special prayer that will renew your fighting spirit and leave you with good memories of your trip. (Haruka Miyagawa)

10 minutes by car

2Rokuon-zan Koshoji Temple

Pass through the gates and you will see a large balloon flower field to your left. The solemn purple flowers are a signature sight of summer in Enshu.

In flower symbolism, balloon flowers are associated with eternal love, so many married couples and lovers visit here.

Koshoji Temple sits on a slightly elevated hill and is surrounded by tea plantations. It is a historic temple that was first opened in 1545. This temple is also considered among the three most famous “Kikyo Temples,” with 40,000 balloon flowers of 15 types planted by a divine message from the Hakuryuzu Kannon. Between mid-June and late July each year, the purple and white flowers are in bloom. When it rains, their colors shine even brighter, so visiting on a rainy day is in fact recommended. There are many cute statues on the grounds, such as Jizo statues and Kannon statues for success in love. The original stamp booklets here, which feature a motif of balloon flowers, are quite popular.

Address:968 Kusagaya, Morimachi, Shuchi-gun, Shizuoka Prefecture
Inquiries:0538-85-3630

Paying respects at the Hakuryuzu Kannon Hall, which enshrines an image of the Kannon boddhisatva riding a dragon.

Original stamp booklet featuring balloon flower motifs

Balloon flowers grown on the grounds are also sold.

30 minutes by car

3The Old Akamatsu Memorial House

The brick gates here are a designated cultural property of the prefecture. To the right is a library containing a variety of rare books and manuscripts.

The French-style brick walls are done in the style of European gardens.

This was the former villa of baron Noriyoshi Akamatsu, a naval vice admiral who was a frontrunner in shipbuilding techniques from the end of the shogunate to the Meiji period, and who opened tea plantations in the Iwata Haradai region. The gate and gatekeeper’s house, built in the mid 1880s to mid 1890s, are unique in being done in a French bricklaying style, and they, alongside the rice storehouse and library, are cultural properties designated by the city and prefecture. The grounds also contain The Old Akamatsu Memorial Hall, which exhibits various cultural properties and donations that pertain to the former Akamatsu family.

Address:3884-10 Mitsuke, Iwata City, Shizuoka Prefecture
Inquiries:0538-36-0340

This building, once used as a rice store, is now open to the public for exhibits.

The vast grounds are also dotted with small bamboo-lined trails for you to stroll through.

Strike a pose with Shippei, a popular dog character who is a signature of the Iwata region.

1 minute on foot

4Ajisho Tenhiro (tempura)

Lunch at Tsubaki hall: enjoy tempura and sashimi served in a seated environment

The entrance to Tsubaki hall, with its distinctly Japanese appearance.

Ajisho Tenhiro, adjacent to The Old Akamatsu Memorial Hall, is a Japanese restaurant that contains three distinct areas: the main hall, where you can enjoy traditional kaiseki cuisine in a private room (reservation required); the Unohana, where tofu-style kaiseki is served (reservation required), and the Tsubaki hall. The Tsubaki hall has a consistent folkstyle interior, with thick beams and pillars making for a soothing space. The shops sell platters featuring tempura and sashimi, rice bowls topped with large tempura shrimp and veggies, Omoro Curry, a local Iwata cuisine featuring softly stewed pig’s feet, and ample servings of stone-grilled beef, among others.

Address:3884-5 Mitsuke, Iwata City, Shizuoka Prefecture
Inquiries:0538-32-7078

5 minutes by car

5Old Mitsuke School

This modern five-story building features white stucco walls and emerald green pillars and window frames. You can see clear out to the city from the top steps.

In the retro-styled classrooms, you can use slates and slate pencils, implements used in the Meiji period, to draw.

Japan’s oldest extant wooden elementary schoolhouse built in a pseudo-European style, this building went up in 1875 and is, alongside the adjacent Iwata Bunko building, designated as a national historic site. Used as an elementary school until 1922, the building then changed hands and was variously used as a middle school and hospital. Inside, you will find reproductions of what class sessions and faculty offices looked like, with rare pedagogic materials on display. The dainty wooden desks, chairs, and old textbooks are also nostalgic. Feel as though you have been transported back in time to the good old days.

Address:2452 Mitsuke, Iwata-shi, Shizuoka Prefecture
Inquiries:0538-32-4511

5 minutes by car

6Yanahime Shrine ( Mitsuke Tenjin Shrine )

To the right of the torii gate is a statue of a sacred dog, Shippei Taro, who is said to have driven away ghosts.

On either side of the worship hall you will find figures of sacred cows, which bear a deep connection to the shrine deity.

Yanahime Shrine has long been considered to confer blessings like academic success, safe childbirth, success in childrearing, health, and bountiful harvest and prosperity. Many local and out-of-prefecture students preparing for exams come to pay their respects, as the shrine is considered one of the Tokai region’s foremost for academic blessings. The Mitsuke Tenjin Hadaka Festival is considered a uniquely peculiar rite. Held on the weekend immediately before the 10th of August on the old lunar calendar, this event involves men in loincloths thronging the ocean. It is an important intangible folk cultural property. Adjacent to the red torii gate at the entrance is a statue of the sacred dog Shippei Taro, who is said to have protected Mitsuke from ghosts. In recent years, the site is believed to confer blessings on the health of household pets. There are also cute charms here featuring “Shippei,” the mascot of Iwata, who is inspired by Shippei Taro.

Address:1114-2 Mitsuke, Iwata City, Shizuoka Prefecture
Inquiries:0538-32-5298

The main enshrined deity here is Yanahime no Mikoto, who confers blessings like safe childbirth, success in childrearing, and matchmaking.

After touring the grounds, you can receive a stamp in your booklet. There are also special stamp booklets featuring the dog Shippei Taro.

Other popular items are wooden votive tablets and charms featuring Shippei

Point!

Mitsuke Shrine is home to the legend of the sacred dog Shippei Taro, and allows parishioners to bring their pet dogs. There are many charms featuring motifs of Shippei and other images. There is an azalea garden in the back, which is also open for strolling through even when the flowers are not in season. (Haruka Miyagawa)
Here you can watch while the temple fills in your stamp card. The stamp booklet styled after the handsome Shippei Taro dog is a lovely touch. They also have a wide variety of good luck charms, including ones in the shape of Shippei, and even rugby balls. These are so cute, you’ll want to pick one up as a souvenir for yourself. (Miyako Ochiai)

5 minutes by car

7Gyokkado Imanoura Honten (pudding & gelato)

Select from 12 varieties of chilled gelato

The eat-in area in the shop lets you savor the Kiwami Pudding while having a fun chat.

Gyokkado, opened in 1890, is a famous shop founded by Gentaro Suzuki, with the shop name and logo coming from the Oriental orchid, a favorite of his. The shop carries a wide assortment of artisanal Japanese and western sweets, such as its famous miso dumplings, as well as roll cakes and other items. The “Kiwami Pudding,” which was #1 in online shopping pudding rankings, has a smooth texture, refined sweetness, and clean aftertaste that have won it massive popularity. In addition, you can enjoy original gelato featuring special ingredients in the Imamura location only. These ingredients include Gyokkado Red Bean, Iwata Green Tea Matcha Powder, and Cream Cheese Shippei, as well as other seasonal varieties that vary year-round.

Address:4-18-10 Imanoura, Iwata City, Shizuoka Prefecture
Inquiries:0538-36-0102

10 minutes by car

8Kamadasan Kongo-in Ioji Temple

The main temple gate was built in 1847. Made entirely from zelkova wood, featuring doors from a single piece of lumber. The cherry blossoms are also lovely in spring.

The rock garden contains azaleas and other plants intermingled with the rocks, with a surface of hair moss rounding out the scene and suggesting a mountain valley or the ocean.

Since the grounds are covered in moss, Ioji Temple is sometimes called the “Moss Temple of Tokai.” This ancient temple of the Shingon sect of Buddhism was constructed in the Nara period. It is said that Tokugawa Ieyasu spent one month praying for the prosperity of the shogunate here. The vast grounds feature a unique style of dry rock garden dating to the early Edo period, said to have been produced by Lord Kobori Enshu Masakazu. Along with the reception hall and path to the kitchen, the garden is a designated important cultural property. There are many other important cultural properties, such as an early Edo period Kano school screen featuring thirty-six famous figures, Japanese mathematical tables, and other important documents. Ioji Temple is located in rich natural scenery: in spring, the iris japonica blooms, and in early summer, the azaleas. The contrast between the flowers and moss is exquisite.

Address:2065-1 Kamada, Iwata City, Shizuoka Prefecture
Inquiries:0538-32-8710

The vast grounds are home to a range of blue and purple hydrangea flowers that are a pleasure for the eyes.

Vivid moss lines the paths and gardens, a traditional touch of the Japanese aesthetic.

After a day in Morimachi and Iwata, we were able to collect all four stamps from the temples!

30 minutes by car

JR Kakegawa Station (rental car return)

GOAL

Find upcoming cultural events in this area.

静岡県文化プログラム推進委員会

HOME > PLACES TO GO > Trip Ideas > This route lets you enjoy a drive through the areas where Okuni Shrine (Enshu Morimachi) and Mitsuke Tenjin Shrine (Iwata) are located. See cultural sights, collect stamps, and savor the local cuisine!