Kuzuryu Shrine Hongu
This is the shrine attached to the legend of the Nine-Headed Dragon of Lake Ashi. They say that once upon a time a poisonous dragon with nine heads lived in Lake Ashi. The dragon caused a lot of damage, but when the holy priest Mangan who was under the divine protection of the Great Deities of Hakone offered up his prayers, the dragon underwent a change of heart and became a believer. Because of that, it was enshrined as a dragon god. These origins are why Kuzuryu Shrine, literally, the “Nine-Headed Dragon Shrine”, is so deeply connected to Hakone Shrine, which enshrines the Great Deities of Hakone, and why the Kuzuryu Shrine Shingu (“new shrine”) was built within the Hakone Shrine precincts in 2000.
In recent years Kuzuryu Shrine has become very popular with women as a power spot known to bring luck in finding a romantic partner. It is also believed to bring good fortune with money, success in business, and so on.
The Kuzuryu Forest surrounding the shrine is all sacred ground, so vehicular traffic is prohibited. Since visitors generally proceed on foot from Hakone-en or Kojiri, walking for about 30 minutes, there isn’t any noise and you can make your visit in peace. That usual tranquility is shattered, though, on the 13th of every month when the monthly festival is held and visitors throng the shrine. On that day there is special ship service to the shrine that departs from Motohakone Port, the same as used by the Lake Ashi leisure boat cruise (¥1,500 round trip). Worshipers can have their prayers included as part of the shrine’s rituals, which start at 10:00. Please note that registration for this takes place at the Motohakone Information Center for the Lake Ashi leisure boat cruise, and not at the shrine (registration opens at 7:30; please register by 9:25 in order to board the ship for shrine visitors on time).
Also, sacred water that brings much favor from the Dragon God flows from a spring in the new shrine within the Hakone Shrine precincts. You are permitted to take some of the sacred water home with if you use a special plastic bottle, so be sure to visit both shrines.
Incidentally, the Hakone Bakery makes bean-jam buns using this Dragon God water and makes an offering of them at the monthly festival. In addition to the main shop in Hakone-Yumoto, you can also purchase these buns at the souvenir shop next to the Hakone Shrine parking lot.
Address: Hakone Kuzuryu Forest, Motohakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture
Admission: ¥500 (Admission to the Hakone Kuzuryu Forest. For those coming to worship at the shrine during the monthly festival on the 13th of each month, admission is free during the morning hours.)
Open: 9:00 – 17:00
Access: 65-minute ride on the Izu Hakone Bus bound for Kojiri/Hakone-en from Hakone-Yumoto Station; get off at either the Hakone-en bus stop or the Prince Hakone Lake Ashi bus stop. 25-minute drive from Hakone-Honbako.
Parking: Visitors may use the parking at either Hakone-en or the Prince Hakone Lake Ashi.
Official homepage: http://hakonejinja.or.jp