While traveling in the Japanese countryside or skimming through a regional travel guide, you might come across the term “power spot” (パワースポット). While the phrase is borrowed from English, its meaning might not be immediately obvious. However, after visiting one or two power spots, you’ll quickly get the idea of what they represent!
What are Power Spots?
Power spots refer to places that are considered to be sacred or spiritual, oftentimes with a special healing property. At power spots, visitors can pray, wish for good luck, or simply take a moment to connect with their surroundings. Some tourists go to power spots to pay respect to mystical forces or draw energy from nature, while others visit them just for fun!
Because there’s no official organization that recognizes power spots, many travel guides and local governments make the designation themselves. A popular strategy to attract tourists to lesser-known regions, hundreds of power spots have cropped up in Japan since the term was first popularized in the 1990s. Each with its own unique characteristics and mythologies, different power spots claim to offer different benefits such as improving fertility, securing a job, or finding love. If you’re looking for a boost in a particular arena of life, try looking for a power spot that suits your needs!
Some well-recognized power spots in Japan include:
Located in the heart of Tokyo, Meiji Jingu is the spiritual home of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken. The iconic wooden torii gate and surrounding greenery offer a welcome respite from busy city life.
A lush island off the southern coast of mainland Japan, Yakushima is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that inspired the scenery in the Ghibli moviePrincess Mononoke. Home to cedar trees that date back several millenniums, Yakushima is described as a magical emerald forest.
One of the most famous landmarks in Miyazaki prefecture, Takachiho Gorge is a natural gorge with stunning waterfalls and volcanic cliffs. According to legend, the sun goddess Amaterasu hid here, momentarily plunging the world into darkness before being coaxed back out by a festival celebration.
Located in Shiga prefecture in the Kansai region, Lake Biwa is Japan’s largest lake. In the middle of the wide expanse of water stands a single torii gate known as Shirahige Shrine. Worshipped for marriage longevity, Shirahige Shrine is a popular destination for couples to visit.
An active volcano in Kumamoto prefecture and the most active volcano in Japan, Mount Aso has long been worshipped as a powerful god and source of life energy. On days when monitoring officials deem it safe, visitors can hike to the top or take a short helicopter ride to peer into the volcano’s steaming crater.
Whether you believe in the “power” of power spots or not, it’s undeniable that they are wonderful places to learn about Japanese folk history and take in the beauty of nature.
About the author:
Britney Budiman (@booritney) is a writer, minimalist, aspiring effective altruist, and runner-in-progress with a penchant for saying “yes.” Previously, she has worked in Cambodia at a traditional arts NGO, in Brazil as a social sciences researcher, and in San Francisco at a housing start-up. She currently lives in the countryside of Kagoshima, Japan, where she teaches English. Her favorite thing in the world is good conversation.