Worshipping the deity of paper: Okamoto/Otaki Shrine

Worshipping the deity of paper:
Okamoto/Otaki Shrine

An important shrine for Echizen washi

Echizen-shi, Fukui is well-known for its specialty, ”Echizen washi”. Traditionally, it is believed that a deity communicated the technique of paper making to this region. The conjoined Okamoto Shrine and Otaki Shrine worship Kawakami Gozen, the deity of paper. Nakata visited Gegu Honden Haiden, a building designated as a National Important Cultural Property. There is a carving of a Chinese historical allusion within the Honden. The ”hiwadabuki” roof using the bark of hinoki cypress is overlapped with a tilting, decorative roof. The dignified appearance is reminiscent of the days when this town thrived as a center of ”washi” production. The ”honzon” (principal object of worship) of Okamoto/Otaki Shrine is located in Okunoin near the top of Mt. Daitoku-zan which stands behind the premises. In 719, a priest named Taicho visited here for missionary work. He initiated Shugendo near the top of the mountain, which commands a view of the holy mountain named Hakusan. Otaki Temple was designated as Otakichigo-daigongen, and is the precursor of Otaki Shrine.

Culture for paper making that remains in festivals

During the biannual celebrations held in the spring and fall, the ”honzon” is carried by ”mikoshi” (a portable shrine) from Okunoin down to Gegu. The festival with a history of nearly 1300 years is considered to be an important event for the community, and is designated by Fukui prefecture as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property as a symbol of the syncretization of Shinto with Buddhism. It also features ”kaminogaku” and ”kamikagura” dances to represent the way Kawakami Gozen communicated the technique of paper making. This is also rare in festivals. The spring festival of Okamoto/Otaki Shrine is held for three days from May 3 to 5 every year, coinciding with the so-called Golden Week holidays. This is a good opportunity to visit the shrine that has continued to support the development of ”Echizen washi”.


Okamoto/Otaki Shrine
13-1 Otaki-cho, Echizen, Fukui