Connect with us


Asahi Town's Air Shrine: A Photo Essay on Appreciating the Air

Discover the unique Air Shrine in Asahi Town, Yamagata, through a photo essay that explores the community's gratitude and celebration of the pure mountain air.



The Air Shrine with the surrounding scenery reflected on the 5-meter-square stainless steel plate. People can be seen visiting and paying their respects, May 15 in Asahi Town, Yamagata Prefecture. (©Sankei by Kazuya Kamogawa)

Read the full story on Japan 2 Earth - Asahi Town's Air Shrine: A Photo Essay on Appreciating the Air

In a beech forest echoing with birdsong stands a polished metal plate reflecting the fresh green leaves. This one-of-a-kind 'Air Shrine' is located in Asahi Town in Yamagata Prefecture. But it was not built by a religious organization. True to its name, it enshrines the air. 

Origins of the 'Air Shrine'

Located at the foot of the Asahi mountain range, the forest surrounding the Air Shrine was once traversed by mountain ascetics practicing Shugendo. Now, a stainless steel mirrored plate stands and reflects the surrounding scenery.

The history of the Air Shrine dates back 50 years. In the 1970s, Chiyoo Shirakawa, a local farmer, proposed building a shrine. Declaring that he "never tired while working in the mountain air," Shirakawa noted the need "to give thanks for the air".

Video of the Air Shrine (in Japanese only)

Shirakawa advocated for establishing a shrine dedicated to air, an unprecedented concept, at local meetings and in town newsletters. Yet low awareness of environmental issues among residents meant many people did not understand his idea and thought the town already had plenty of shrines.

"My grandfather was truly an eccentric," explains Shirakawa's granddaughter today. She recalls learning a lot about plants and other subjects from her knowledgeable and multi-talented grandfather as a child. "Looking back, he saw the world differently from others. His thinking might have been ahead of its time."

Continue reading the full story on Japan 2 Earth to see more stunning photos of Asahi Town's one-of-a-kind Air Shrine.

And find more great articles on the environment and the challenges of achieving the SDGs on our affiliated website Japan 2 Earth (J2E), sparking a transition to a sustainable future.


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Kazuya Kamogawa