Move over cat temple, there’s a new animal in town. From the outside, this little shrine in Tosa City, Kochi Prefecture does not appear particularly special, resembling thousands of similar local shrines around Japan. However, once you pass under the low torii gates, you are thrown into a world of green… as in, “it’s not easy being green.”
The shrine is thought to date back to 1899, when a local farmer came across a tiny shrine in his field after a typhoon. He dug it out, and after returning home placed it under the eaves of his storehouse. However, his household soon became plagued with warts and other unpleasant skin ailments. At his wit’s end, the man went to seek counsel at another famous shrine. After explaining his issue to the Shinto priest, he was told that the god in the small shrine wished to be placed somewhere else.
To placate the unhappy spirit, the farmer built a shrine for the sacred object in 1901. As the whole family began paying their respects and praying at the new shrine, all their warts and skin issues started to miraculously disappear! The enshrined god became known as a curer of warts, attracting those in seek of solace from across the country.
Grateful supplicants began leaving frog-themed gifts to the god, likely inspired by the amphibians’ wart-like skin. There are clearly a lot of happy, wart-free folks around, going by the sheer number of frog statues, stuffed animals, and figurines stuffed into every corner of the shrine. From surprisingly realistic ceramic statuettes to beloved frogs from cartoons, visitors are sure to be stunned by the sheer quantity of variations on the frog (and toad) theme.
Frog-lovers (and wart-suffers) alike can stop by on their way to the Niyodo River, or when checking out the famous hydrangeas of the nearby town of Haruno.
Know Before You Go
The shrine is tucked along a bend of the Niyodo River, about a 30 minute drive from central Kochi City. There are some buses that run to the hearby town of Haruno, for those without wheels.