About 1,500 years ago, the goddess of paper appeared upstream along the Okamoto River in Echizen. There, she taught papermaking skills to the local villagers.
Soon after, she was given the name Kawakami Gozen (“Upper River”),
and has since been worshiped as a goddess.
These events are also recorded in the Engishiki Jinmyouchou, a historical text that documented existing Japanese shrines in the year 926 CE.



Plans for Ōtaki Shrine began during the reign of Empress Suiko (593 – 628 C.E.). A man named Ōtomo Murashigi Ōtaki first proposed that the area be used for spiritual practice. Many years later, Taichō, a shugendō Buddhist monk, visited the Ōtaki area in 719. Taichō founded Ōtaki Shrine’s original structure, making it a suitable place to safeguard the goddess of paper (Kawakami Gozen).

Initially, the Ōtaki worship hall was regarded as a temple. However, it was designated a shrine during the Meiji Period, when the Japanese government enacted shinbutsu bunri, the official separation of Shintō from Buddhism.



Since then, Ōtaki Shrine has endured the ages, and the shrine’s devotion to the goddess of paper continues to this day. Even now, Ōtaki Shrine is an active institution that supports Echizen’s papermaking community. This area is thus a good place to call the “holy land of papermaking.”


Okamoto Shrine and Ōtaki Shrine share the same main hall structure. The roof of this hall features two iconic front-facing curved gables, along with a series of angled gables.

The main hall was designated an important cultural property in 1984 for its representation of Edo period architecture.

The architectural style of the main hall is unlike any other in Japan. It is well known among architects for its unique and distinctive form. Visiting in person is the best way to view the main hall and absorb the peaceful atmosphere of the shrine grounds.

江戸時代後期を代表する建物として、昭和59 年(1984)に国の重要文化財に指定されています。



Every year for the past 1,300 years, from May 3-5, a festival for the goddess of paper is held in the papermaking village. This festival features a portable shrine that holds the goddess of paper. On May 3, villagers ascend the nearby mountain and bring the enshrined paper goddess from the isolated inner sanctuary of the shrine to the main shrine hall located at the base of the mountain.
On May 4, villagers conduct rituals and offer prayers to the goddess of paper.
The festival comes to an end on May 5. Villagers parade the goddess of paper around the area, stopping at local shrines, homes, and studios. In the evening, they ascend the mountain with the portable shrine, returning the enshrined goddess of paper to her resting place at the inner sanctuary of the shrine.


The Okamoto-Ōtaki festival is one of Japan’s few remaining festivals that adheres to traditional celebratory practices.

Additionally, 2018 marks the 1,300th anniversary of this festival. Thus, from May 2 to May 5, a grand festival will be held commemorating this occasion.

To celebrate the 1,300th anniversary, a visual representation of the goddess of paper will be featured for the first time in 8 years at nearby Goō Shrine. Additionally, the inner sanctuary of the shrine will open its doors to visitors for the first time in 50 years. Eight sacred texts will be displayed, and a lecture meeting will be held to discuss the texts and the history of the area.