In my time living in Japan I’ve visited a lot of shrines, I mean…haven’t we all? Some of the top destinations while traveling in Asia are usually visiting some sort of temple or shrine, and there’s most likely a giant Buddha at some temple somewhere am I right? Some shrines were just little blips in my memory and at some point they tend to blur together BUT NOT THIS ONE. Oyama Shrine is a special gem in the wide array of island shrines I’ve encountered. As some of you know, my friends and I cycled over 100 kilometers from Onomichi, Hiroshima to Imabari, Shikoku during spring break, and this is how we were able to visit this fun little shrine! You’ll be able to read all about the cycling trip at a later date, but today I want to discuss the wonders of Oyama Shrine or the Bicycle Shrine.
Oyama Shrine is one of the oldest shrines on Innoshima Island which was established in 773 and is enshrined on hill overlooking the sea. The main deity is “Oyama Zumi No Okami” or the Deity of Agriculture and it was worshipped by the famous Murakami Navy in Japan’s medieval ages. For those of you who may be confused, a shine is a bit different from a temple in that shrines are for Shintoism while temples are for Buddhism. A shinto shrine, like Oyama, is where a particular god, or Shinto deity is enshrined. People who visit these shrines usually come to celebrate birth, New Years, and often make prayers for themselves or their families. At Oyama Shrine you can actually try a Shinto Ritual for 500 yen where you can experience a traditional Shinto Purification Ritual. You will be accompanied by court music to ward off evil spirits and bring about good fortune.
Another aspect of Oyama Shrine is it’s transportation deity. These days, many people view this shrine as the “bicycle shrine” and visit it while on their cycling journey through to Shikoku. The transportation deity, or “Watashi Okami” provides safety on bicycles and other modes of transportation. “Watashi Okami” has a bonus power of being able to connect people and can provide some matchmaking services. Keep your eyes peeled for the heart-shaped stone of good fate around the shrine and you may have some luck finding your true love.
You can find a ton of cute charms with bicycles on them. I bought one and it’s now tied to my bicycle to ward of danger and keep me safe on my commute to work. Make sure to explore all of the shrine! If you head towards the back of the shrine you’ll find some pretty statues and tori gates and a beautiful ocean view.
If you do end up taking the challenge to cycle across the 7 islands to Shikoku, I totally recommend checking out Oyama Shrine. Thank you for reading!