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Friday, April 04, 2014

Ryugu Shrine & Cape Nagasakibana


Ryugu Shrine is situated at Cape Nagasakibana (長﨑鼻) on the southern tip of the Satsuma Peninsula in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Ryugu Shrine, Kagoshima Prefecture

Ryugu Shrine is a modern construction built to cash in on the legend of Urashima Taro, who is said to have come from this area. The fairy story of Urashima Taro involves a fisherman saving a small turtle from being terrorized by kids. In return, the turtle (or in some versions a larger turtle that appears the following day) invites Taro to Ryugu Palace at the bottom of the sea, where he meets Otohime (Princess Toyotama), a beautiful incarnation of the small turtle Taro had saved.

Ryugu Shrine, Kagoshima, Kyushu

After staying at Ryugu Palace for three days, Taro wishes to return to see his aging mother. Otohime gives him a box called tamatebako, which she says will protect him from harm but which he is not to open.

When Taro returns to his village no-one recognizes him and his mother is gone. In fact, 300 years have passed since Taro left. In panic, Taro opens the tamatebako from which white smoke comes out and ages Taro 300 years.

The shrine buildings seen today date from 2011. Turtles still come to lay their eggs in the area but it was rather strange to see stuffed ones for sale in the souvenirs on the road down to the shrine and the light house at the cape.

Cape Nagasakibana

Ryugu Shrine
Kagoshima 891-0513
Tel: 0993 22 3252

There are Kagoshima Kotsu buses from Yamagawa Station on the JR Ibusuki-Makurazaki Line. Nearby is the impressive Flower Park garden with thousands of variety of flowers and the nearer Nagasakibana Parking Garden (1200 yen; 8am-5pm) with tropical plants, parrots and monkeys.

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