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Takaiwa Shrine: Bantoya & Hadaka-mairi

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Witness a special winter tradition in rural Akita

Takaiwa Shrine: Bantoya & Hadaka-mairi


The Hadaka-mairi (naked pilgrimage) is a traditional event that was usually held during the Lunar New Year (January 15th of the lunar calendar) at Takaiwa Shrine, the guardian shrine of the Niageba district of Futatsui―Town of Love Letters in Akita Prefecture. Clad only in a loincloth, white tabi socks, and straw sandals, pilgrims enter the Fujikoto River and cleanse their bodies by pouring cold water over their heads with a pail. Afterward, with offering money in hand, they silently run 4 km up the snowy mountain path to the shrine.

It is said that this pilgrimage was originally performed by young men who were about to undergo military conscription to pray for good luck and long life in arms, but this practice ceased after the war. However, around the early 90s, the Niageba Youth Association, who wanted to revive the shrine, which had fallen into disrepair as fewer people visited it, revived the event in order to promote Takaiwa Shrine and the Hadaka-mairi as a local winter event.

Fun fact – it is said that if you make this pilgrimage for three years in a row, your wish will come true!


During Bantoya, snow lanterns are lit from the approach to Takaiwa shrine (to the mountainside of the shrine) to commemorate the victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and pray for early recovery. On a snowy moonlit night, you can witness the shining snow lanterns along the path create a mysterious atmosphere around you.

Hadaka-mairi – Fujikoto River (Takaiwa Bridge riverbed)
Bantoya – from the Takaiwa Shrine approach to Takaiwa Shrine

🚗Approximately 30 minutes by car from Odate-Noshiro Airport About 20 minutes by car from Akita Expressway Futatsui Shirakami IC
🚂JR Futatsui Station (5 minutes by car to the trail entrance to Takaiwa Shrine)


Date / Time
24 February 2024, Saturday
Starting at sunset
Operation period
Usually mid or late winter
Notes / Other
★Admission is free. Reservations not required for viewing.
★Those who wish to participate in the Hadaka-mairi event are required to apply in advance.

Business / Company / Operator Details

Ito Ken Shoten (伊藤謙商店)
+81(0)185-73-2103 (only Japanese available)

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