The Floating Vermilion Gates of Saga’s Ōuo Shrine

Legend of a Fish

Stretching into the Ariake Sea, the three vermilion gates of the Ōuo Shrine have an otherworldly quality.

At high tide, the three torii of Saga’s Ōuo Shrine seem to float on the surface of the Ariake Sea. At low tide, however, the water recedes to such a degree that it is possible to stroll out to and around the gates. The variation in scenery is the result of the sea’s large tidal range, which can be as much as six meters, making the area a popular spot with sightseers and photographers.

Get close up to the gates when the tide has ebbed.

According to legend, some three centuries ago a corrupt magistrate was invited by local residents to a party on the nearby island of Okinoshima. Having lured him to the remote location, the people plied him with drink and abandoned him to his fate. The magistrate prayed to be rescued and a giant fish came to his aid. In gratitude, he built Ōuo Shrine—literally “large fish shrine”—and placed the torii so they extended into the sea in a direct line toward Okinoshima. Every 30 years, the gates are rebuilt.

Access: A 10-minute walk from Tara Station, Saga Prefecture, on the JR Nagasaki Main Line.

(Banner photo: The torii gates at Ōuo Shrine at high tide. Information courtesy of the Saga Prefectural Tourism Federation.)

tourism temple shrine Kyūshū Saga