23.10.2023 Update

Here are common aspects shared between Yawata Kamado Shrine and the manga "Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba"

Yawata Kamado Shrine is located in the Uchikamado district of Beppu City. It's approximately a 5-minute drive from JR Nippo Main Line's Kamegawa Station. The term "Kamado" in the shrine's name holds significance. The protagonist of "Demon Slayer" is named "Tanjiro Kamado." With the shared term in their names and numerous other points in common with the world of "Demon Slayer," fans have started to visit the shrine as a sacred site.

① Sacred Site Number One: "Name"

via OITAKATETE (673)

via OITAKATETE (674)

In the main hall, numerous votive plaques are displayed. It's said that "Demon Slayer" fans visit and write down their wishes and favorite characters. The votive plaque stands, which were originally just one, have now increased to four, indicating the growing number of fans who come to visit.

② Sacred Site Number Two: "Dragon Water Deity"

via OITAKATETE (678)

When you look inside the main hall, you'll see a dragon painting on the ceiling. It's the depiction of the "Dragon Water Deity," believed to protect against fires. This image bears a striking resemblance to the dragon in the background of Tanjiro Kamado's "Hinokami Kagura" technique.
Interestingly, if you flip this image upside down, you'll notice a similar composition. Take a look and compare for yourself!

③ Sacred Site Number Three: "The 99 Steps Built by Oni"

via OITAKATETE (681)

As you descend the steps from the main hall, you'll find a torii gate, beneath which a staircase continues downward.
The shrine holds legends associated with oni, Japanese demons. This staircase is one such legend. In the past, the deity Hachiman (a god of war) made a pact with a man-eating oni that had been appearing nightly in the region. The deity challenged the oni to construct 100 steps overnight, promising that if the oni succeeded, it would never bother the village again.
When the oni completed 99 steps by dawn, it was startled and fled. According to the legend, it never returned.
This story aligns with the theme in "Demon Slayer" where demons consume humans and perish when exposed to sunlight.
Interestingly, the craftsmanship of the steps starts off meticulous but becomes rougher towards the end. Imagining the oni hastily building them is intriguing. For those with the energy, counting all 99 steps can be quite a feat!

④ Sacred Site Number Four: "The Forgotten Stone Sandals by the Oni"

via OITAKATETE (684)

The oni who built the 99 steps actually left behind stone sandals!
Even these stone sandals have a legend attached to them. Villagers who tried putting their feet into the abandoned stone sandals found themselves instantly invigorated and full of energy.
The oni's three-toed feet symbolize "greed, jealousy, and complaint," representing the absence of "intelligence and compassion," as they are said to lack those qualities.
In "Demon Slayer," the demons also embody a mixture of "greed, jealousy, and complaint." Another shared point can be found here.

⑤ Sacred Site Number Five: "The Soul-Dependent Tree"

via OITAKATETE (687)

Here stands the "Soul-Dependent Tree" (Tamayori no Ki), an approximately 500-year-old sacred cedar tree.
Yes, its name is pronounced the same as the demon "Tamayo" in "Demon Slayer."
Walking around to the back, you'll find a fascinating hollow within the trunk. Purchasing a "Tamayori Omamori" amulet allows you to stand inside the trunk.
Standing inside, it feels like this:
I also tried standing within, and I experienced a unique sensation of being enveloped by the tree, with sounds being muted.
Do consider giving it a try for yourself!

⑥ Sacred Site Number Six: "Kagura Hall"

via OITAKATETE (690)

This is the Kagura Hall. The ancient tradition of "Kamado Kagura" has been passed down, and it's dedicated from New Year's Eve through the New Year.
In "Demon Slayer," the demons perform the "Hinokami Kagura" from sunset to sunrise at the beginning of the year.
The protagonist Tanjiro, who inherits the Kagura from generation to generation, uses the "Hinokami Kagura" breathing technique.
Both are Kagura dances associated with fire and are similar in nature.

⑦ Sacred Site Number Seven: "Giant Iron Ball Mine"

via OITAKATETE (693)

After climbing the 99 steps I introduced earlier, you'll find this massive iron ball called the "Mine."
A mine is an explosive device used underwater. This installation originates from the fact that the Beppu Medical Center, visible beneath the staircase, was once a naval hospital. It's said to have been dedicated by the navy in commemoration of their victory in World War I, making it a nationally significant artifact.

Interestingly, among "Demon Slayer" fans, there's a buzz about this since the character Gyomei Himejima wields a weapon with an iron ball resembling this mine.
via OITAKATETE (695)

via OITAKATETE (696)

As souvenirs from your visit, charms and temple seals (goshuin) are quite popular. The votive plaques (ema) that were lined up earlier are also a great choice! The availability of many pens is a delightful addition, allowing you to personalize your ema.

Access to Yawata Kamado Shrine

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Japan Culture GuideJapan Culture Guide

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