The Setting for the Noh Play "Chikubushima" Where Gods Reside

Chikubu Island

Chikubu Island


Chikubu Island  is a small island in Lake Biwa, with a circumference of about 2 kilometers. The entire island is shrouded in a mystical atmosphere and is gaining attention as a power spot. The Noh play "Chikubushima" is set on this island. It tells the story of gods, such as "Benzaiten" and "Dragon God", enshrined in the island's temples, who promise to save the people from confusion and protect the country.

Synopsis of the Noh Play "Chikubushima"

A Refreshing Tale of the Gods Unfolding Amidst the Spring Scenery on the Lake

A group of officials travels to the island and boards a fishing boat with an old man and a young woman. As they admire the views from Lake Biwa, they soon arrive at the island, where the old man guides them to the Benzaiten-do. Noticing that the woman from the boat also comes along, an official asks if the island is forbidden for women. The old man and woman explain that since Benzaiten is a female god, there's no gender segregation on the island. Later, the old man and woman reveal they are not humans. Soon, the woman appears as Benzaiten and performs a dance, while the old man manifests as a dragon, offering treasures before vanishing.


Chikubu Island  itinerary

The Chikubu Island  itinerary allows you to visit the Hogonji Temple and the Tsukubusuma Shrine, both featured in the Noh play "Chikubushima." You'll experience the island's mystique and romance that have gathered people's faith for ages.


Benzaiten Hondo of Hogonji Temple

The Sacred Place of the Main God Benzaiten, Who Appears in the Noh "Chikubushima"


The main god of Hogonji Temple is Benzaiten, one of the "Three Japanese Benzaiten." Among them, she is referred to as "The great-Benzaiten" due to her ancient origins and is enshrined in the main hall. Benzaiten also features in the latter part of the Noh play "Chikubushima." There's a custom where wishes are written on paper and placed inside daruma dolls called "Benten-sama no Shiawase Negai Daruma." Many such cute red daruma dolls are dedicated in this manner.

1664-1 hayazaki-cho Nagahama-city Shiga
Hogonji Temple
SP_5min by foot
5min on foot

The Treasure Hall of Hogonji Temple

Houses Numerous Items Related to Noh


The Hogonji Temple's treasure hall houses numerous temple treasures passed down on Chikubu Island, making it a must-visit for Noh enthusiasts.

Examples of Noh-Related Treasures

The Iseki Mask : A Noh mask donated by Ii Naosuke as an offering of gratitude for his recovery from illness through prayers to Benzaiten.
The Menkoufuhai no tama : One of the three treasures chanted in the Noh "Ama," a crystal ball.
The Yoroidōshi (a short dagger aiming for the gaps in the armor) : A short sword crafted by Sanjo Kokaji Munechika, who appears in the Noh play "Kokaji."
The Sendo no Biwa Plectrum : A plectrum believed to have been used when the protagonist in the Noh play "Tsunemasa" prayed for victory on Chikubu and played the renowned biwa instrument "Sendō no Biwa."
The Futamata no Take : The treasure of Hogonji Temple that is featured in the Noh "Chikubushima." It is said that when a practitioner prayed, their bamboo staff would split into two, producing branches and leaves. Currently, it is not open to the public.

SP_7min by foot
7min on foot

The Kara Mon (Chinese Gate)

A National Treasure with Historical Ties to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Who Loved Noh

The Karamon Gate

National Treasure The Karamon Gate : This is a part of the Great Osaka Castle's Gokuraku Bridge, built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It features exquisite carvings and vibrant patterns in a lavish style. Hideyoshi, a warrior who loved Noh, even performed Noh himself and supported Noh actors.

The Kannon Hall : It enshrines Senju Kannon Bodhisattva.

The Boat Corridor : A corridor extending from the Kannon Hall to the Tsukubusuma Shrine, built using the framework of Hideyoshi's ship "Nihonmaru."

SP_5min by foot
5min on foot

Hondo of the Tsukubusuma Shrine

A National Treasure that Relocated a Palace from Fushimimomoyama Castle

都久夫須麻神社 本殿

The Tsukubusuma Shrine, also known as Chikubushima Shrine, is a historic shrine with a deep-rooted heritage. In ancient times, Chikubushima was referred to by the name "Tsukubusuma." The enshrined gods include Ichikishimahime (Benzaiten), Uga Fukujin, Chikubushima Dragon, and Asaihime, the local god who governs Lake Biwa's waters. The main hall was relocated from the evening palace of Fushimi Momoyama Castle and is a national treasure.

1665 Hayazaki-cho Nagahama-shi Siga
Chikubushima Shrine
SP_5min by foot
5min on foot

Ryujin Haisho

The Island's Top Scenic Spot with Deep Connections to Noh


Ryujin Haisho, built on the island's slope just opposite the national treasure main hall.

It's believed to be the spot where Taira no Tsunemasa played the biwa (Japanese lute) to pray for victory, and it offers the island's best panoramic views. Near the dragon shrine, you'll find the Kokuryudo, said to be where the dragon god from the second half of the Noh play "Chikubushima " descended to the mortal world. The towering tree next to it is said to be the sacred tree where the black dragon rises from the lake.

Various Ways to Enjoy Chikubu Island

Making Wishes on the Island of Power Spots

The Dragon Worship Site at the Tsukubusuma Shrine

Tsukubusuma Shrine: Kawarake Nage

One famous tradition is the "Kawarake Nage," where people write their wishes on pottery, then toss them from the Dragon Worship Site towards the torii gate extending into the lake. It's believed that if the pottery passes through the gate, the wish will come true.

Hoogonji Temple: "Benten-sama no Shiawase Negai Daruma"

It's said that by placing a wish written on paper inside a small daruma called "Benten-sama no Shiawase Negai Daruma" and dedicating it, the wish will come true. Those who dedicate one receive a daruma strap amulet in return.

Taking a Break and Shopping on the Chikubushima Approach

Taking a Break and Shopping on the Chikubushima Approach

Along the approach from Chikubushima Port to Hōgonji Temple, you'll find traditional souvenir shops and trendy cafes.

Souvenirs from Chikibu Islnad

You can enjoy specialties from Lake Biwa like simmered fish and shellfish, as well as "Negaidaruma" milk manju, known for its gentle flavor. In cafes, the popular choice is "Ohmi Gyuu-man," packed with the savory goodness of Shiga's branded beef, Omi Beef.

Enjoying Nagahama Sightseeing

Nagahama Castle History Museum

One place you shouldn't miss in Nagahama is the Nagahama Castle History Museum. From the 5th-floor observation deck, you can enjoy panoramic views of Lake Biwa and feel like a warlord from the Sengoku period thanks to narrations and sound effects.

Photo/Biwako Visitors Bureau Public Interest Incorporated Association