There is a shrine in Fukutsu-shi, Fukuoka-ken with a shimenawa said to be, at 5 tons, the largest in Japan. Not only that, it is known for a spectacular sunset phenomenon. Set on the slope of Miyajidake, the Miyajidake Jinjya 宮地嶽神社 overlooking the city faces west toward the Japan Sea. A long flight of steps leads up to the main torii. From the shrine, the path seems to lead directly to the sea and Ai-no-shima island. This is the Hikari no Michi, the Path of Light.
Twice a year, the sun will set along a line connecting the shrine, the torii, the entrance path, the beach, and the island. The dates are around the 20th of October and February. The Festival of the Setting Sun is held to commemorate the time when ancestors will come to sit between this world and the other world. At night the way is lit by 3,000 bamboo lamps on which prayers are written.
Chika-san visited the shrine on February 18, a few days early to avoid the expected large crowds. Her photos show the haiden with shimenawa and the view of the promenade from the torii to the sea. Finally, the sun sinks into the sea behind the Ai-no-shima, and night falls. The alignment will be straighter two or three days later as the sun moves further north.
The shrine has prepared a colorful brochure here, http://www.miyajidake.or.jp/images/en/booklet.pdf
The reason for Chika-san’s and our interest in this solar event has to do with its closeness in time to the 10/23 and 2/19 astronomical cross-quarter observations at Kanayama Megaliths. These dates are around 60 days before and after the winter solstice. Observations made on cross-quarter dates assist in the determination of the winter solstice day. Further, careful data collection can also help determine a leap-year calendar. However, we have yet to find an astronomical purpose behind building the shrine to create the Hikari no Michi alignment. Yet, it does make for a splendid sight twice a year!