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Most popular Shinto shrines in Tokyo, Japan

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Tokyo, a city teeming with rich cultural heritage, is home to a myriad of historical Shinto shrines that have stood the test of time. These sacred sites not only hold deep spiritual significance but also offer a glimpse into Japan’s captivating past.

Each shrine weaves a unique narrative of tradition, devotion, and architectural brilliance. In this article, we present a curated list of renowned Shinto shrines in Tokyo, inviting you to explore the spiritual heart of this dynamic metropolis.

And if you’re eager to delve into Tokyo’s Buddhist temples or discover more of its historical attractions, our next articles awaits your curiosity.

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine (Meiji Jingū), nestled in the heart of Shibuya, Tokyo, is a revered Shinto sanctuary dedicated to the venerated spirits of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken.

While Emperor Meiji’s final resting place lies in Fushimi-momoyama, south of Kyoto, this shrine stands as a testament to his pivotal role in the Meiji Restoration.

Constructed in 1915 under the guidance of Itō Chūta, the shrine stands as a splendid embodiment of traditional nagare-zukuri architecture, employing native Japanese cypress and copper.

Its creation was a nationwide endeavor, rallying Japanese youth groups and civic associations from all corners of the country, contributing both labor and resources. The shrine’s original price tag was ¥5,219,000 in 1920 (equivalent to about US$26 million today), significantly reduced due to these communal contributions.

Formally consecrated on November 3, 1920, the shrine’s present iteration emerged in 1958, funded by a public fundraising campaign after the original edifice fell victim to World War II air raids.

Meiji Shrine’s sprawling 70-hectare forest, adorned with 120,000 trees representing 365 species, creates an oasis of calm amidst Tokyo’s bustling core. The inner precinct, Naien, features shrine buildings and a treasure museum, while the outer precinct, Gaien, houses the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery and various sports facilities.

The shrine hosts numerous annual festivals, including captivating exhibitions like ice carving, shodoten (calligraphy winners’ works), bonsai, Suiseki Masterpieces, Memory Dolls, Chrysanthemums, Dahlia displays, and events at the Treasure Museum Annex.

Kanda Shrine

Kanda Shrine, officially known as Kanda-jinja, is a historic Shinto shrine nestled in Chiyoda, Tokyo. With a rich history spanning 1,270 years, the shrine’s present structure has been reconstructed multiple times due to natural disasters.

Its location in one of Tokyo’s most exclusive areas adds to its allure. During the Edo period, Kanda Shrine held great significance for both warriors and citizens, attracting even the attention of shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Initially established in 730 AD in Shibasaki village, Kanda Shrine was relocated twice before settling on its current site near Akihabara. The shrine’s resilience is evident; it survived the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake and World War II’s firebombing. Its iconic two-story main gate, Zuishin-mon, leads visitors into the shrine, which is adorned with intricate vermilion and gold decorations.

Kanda Shrine is revered for its enshrined kami, including Daikokuten, Ebisu, and Taira no Masakado. Businesspeople frequent the shrine to seek blessings for wealth. Taira no Masakado, an intriguing figure who led a rebellion and was later enshrined out of reverence, contributes to the shrine’s mystique.

The shrine’s prominence extends to the annual Kanda Festival, one of Tokyo’s three major Shinto festivals. This celebration, initiated by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1600, commemorates his victory at Sekigahara battle. Another event, the Daikoku Festival, takes place in January.

Nogi Shrine

Nestled in Tokyo, the Nogi Shrine, or Nogi-jinja, holds a poignant history. Established on November 1, 1923, it stands as a dedication to General Nogi Maresuke and his wife, Nogi Shizuko, who tragically passed away on September 13, 1912.

The shrine was brought into being through the efforts of the Chūō Nogi Kai, an association formed by Tokyo Mayor Baron Yoshio Sakatani. The purpose was to erect a shrine within the couple’s residence to honor their memory.

What makes this shrine exceptional is its connection to a historic event. General Nogi and his wife chose this very site to end their lives following the passing of Emperor Meiji. The original shrine was established soon after this event but was regrettably destroyed during the 1945 air raids. However, in 1962, the present shrine was reconstructed to perpetuate their memory.

The shrine complex also features an example of Meiji-era Western architecture. Preserved alongside the shrine are the wooden house that once belonged to the Nogis and a brick storage building. The significance of General Nogi’s legacy extends beyond Tokyo, as Nogi shrines have also sprung up in other parts of Japan.

Both General Nogi and his wife find their final resting place in Aoyama Cemetery. Conveniently located just a minute’s walk from Nogizaka Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line, the Nogi Shrine offers a space for reflection on history and honor.

Yasukuni Shrine

Nestled in Chiyoda, Tokyo, the Yasukuni Shrine, or Yasukuni Jinja in Japanese, holds a multifaceted history. Established in June 1869 by Emperor Meiji, its primary purpose is to honor those who died in the service of Japan, spanning from the Boshin War of 1868–1869 to the First Indochina War of 1946–1954. This sacred place has garnered both reverence and controversy due to its commemoration of war criminals and association with historical events.

With a registry boasting over 2.4 million enshrined kami, or deities, Yasukuni Shrine immortalizes those who fought for Japan. Its role has evolved over time to encompass a broader range of individuals, including Koreans and Taiwanese who served Japan, as well as war victims who fought against imperial Japan.

Spread across 6.25 hectares, the shrine compound boasts significant structures like the honden (main shrine), Sanshuden (Assembly Hall), and Chinreisha (Spirit Pacifying Shrine), along with torii gates that mark entrances and a symbolic register of divinities that honors those who have passed.

Notably, the shrine’s history has led to its association with Japan’s various wars and its Imperial Chrysanthemum emblem on gate curtains.

Today, the Yasukuni Shrine is a significant landmark where visitors can reflect on Japan’s complex past and pay their respects to those who have served the nation.

Chinreisha Shrine

Chinreisha, the “Spirit Pacifying Shrine,” occupies a modest wooden space within the Yasukuni Shrine precinct, located to the direct south of Yasukuni’s honden, or main shrine.

Commissioned in 1965 by the initiative of Yasukuni’s chief priest, Fujimaro Tsukuba, this shrine plays a significant role in commemorating and cherishing the memory of war victims. Every year, on July 13, a reverent festival is held here.

However, in 1975, concerns arose, leading to the construction of a protective steel fence around the shrine, rendering it inaccessible to the public. This precautionary measure was taken following an incident in Hokkaidō where a shrine was deliberately set ablaze.

The chief priest at Yasukuni Shrine had also received intelligence about possible threats to Chinreisha’s security. Despite these challenges, Chinreisha was reopened to worshipers on October 12, 2006.

Chinreisha is unique in that it encompasses two distinct “za,” or sacred seats for kami (spirits). The first za pays homage to Japanese war-dead from 1853 onward who aren’t enshrined within Yasukuni’s main shrine.

This inclusive roster even encompasses Japanese individuals who lost their lives opposing the Imperial Japanese Army during domestic conflicts such as the Boshin War. In contrast, the second za extends its embrace to all war victims regardless of nationality, acknowledging even those affected by Japan during wartime.

This shrine stands as a poignant counterpoint to Yasukuni’s main shrine, encapsulating a spirit of reconciliation by honoring both allies and adversaries alike.

Nezu Shrine

Nezu Shrine (Nezu-jinja) stands as a venerable Shinto sanctuary nestled within Tokyo’s Bunkyō ward in Japan. Established back in 1705, it proudly boasts the title of being one of the city’s oldest centers of worship.

A collection of structures within its precincts holds the esteemed designation of Important Cultural Property. This shrine’s architectural style, Ishi-no-ma-zukuri, is reminiscent of the Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikkō.

The shrine is renowned for its captivating Azalea Festival (Tsutsuji Matsuri), a springtime spectacle that graces its grounds from early April to early May. This celebration has earned Nezu Shrine accolades as “Tokyo’s most beautiful shrine” and a destination to witness “one of the city’s most spectacular spring scenes.”

Among Tokyo’s Ten Shrines (Tokyo Jissha), Nezu Shrine holds an esteemed position. Steeped in legends, the shrine traces its origins to the 1st century when it was founded in Sendagi. The primary deity honored here is Susanoo-no-Mikoto, a divine figure associated with the sea and storms.

Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, the fifth shōgun of the Tokugawa dynasty, played a pivotal role in relocating the shrine to Nezu in 1705. Though the original structures are no more, this venerable shrine remains an embodiment of historical significance and devotion.

Nezu Shrine’s vibrant atmosphere is further enriched by its abundant torii gates, with the vermilion torii path and the two-storied rōmon being notable highlights. This shrine, steeped in tradition and spirituality, invites visitors to experience its timeless allure and architectural splendor.

Namiyoke Inari Shrine

Namiyoke Inari Shrine (Namiyoke inari-jinja) stands gracefully in Tsukiji, Chūō, Tokyo. This Shinto shrine holds historical significance as an Inari shrine, originally erected by the water’s edge during Tokyo’s inception, arising from the post-1657 Great Fire of Meireki landfill. Its name, “protection from waves,” resonates with the shrine’s purpose and symbolic presence.

In a harmonious blend of culture and necessity, the shrine evolved into a guardian for Tsukiji fish market, notably after its relocation following the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. The shrine’s relevance to the marketplace is evident in the courtyard, adorned with memorial plaques and intricate carvings contributed by trade groups associated with the market.

Namiyoke Inari Shrine embodies the essence of Japanese spirituality while interweaving its identity with the historical and vibrant marketplace, serving as both a sanctuary and a sentinel for Tsukiji’s bustling trade.

Asakusa Shrine

Asakusa Shrine (Asakusa-jinja) stands proudly in Tokyo’s vibrant Asakusa district. Also known as Sanja-sama (Shrine of the Three gods), it holds a revered place among the city’s most renowned Shinto shrines. This sanctuary pays homage to the three visionary men who founded the iconic Sensō-ji, another revered spiritual site located nearby.

Asakusa Shrine is a centerpiece of a larger spiritual complex, nestled on the eastern side of the Sensō-ji. Its historical significance is underscored by its survival through the ravages of World War II, making it an Important Cultural Property that reflects the gongen-zukuri architectural style.

Commissioned in 1649 during the Edo period by Tokugawa Iemitsu, the shrine’s inception was a tribute to the visionary trio – Hinokuma Hamanari, Hinokuma Takenari, and Haji no Matsuchi.

The legend that encapsulates their devotion narrates the discovery of a precious Kannon statuette in the Sumida River in 628. Their transformative journey from fishermen to devout Buddhists culminated in the establishment of the Sensō-ji, and subsequently, the creation of Asakusa Shrine to honor their legacy.

The shrine’s historical significance extends to its role as a site for numerous Shinto and Buddhist festivals, with the Sanja Matsuri held in late May taking the center stage.

This surviving edifice, a testament to resilience and heritage, underscores its enduring relevance in Tokyo’s cultural and spiritual landscape, earning it the esteemed status of an Important Cultural Property since 1951.

Hanazono Shrine

Nestled in the bustling heart of Shinjuku, Tokyo, the Hanazono Shrine (Hanazono Jinja) is a hidden gem of historical and spiritual significance. This Shinto shrine, founded in the mid-17th century, carries a rich legacy that transcends its unassuming size.

Renowned as one of Japan’s most historical shrines, Hanazono Jinja embodies centuries of tradition and cultural reverence.

Originally established during the pre-Edo period, the shrine’s first location was about 250 meters south of its current site. It was during the Kan’ei era that the shrine underwent relocation, finding its place in the gardens of the Owari-Tokugawa family. This move was driven by the need to accommodate a shogun’s vassal villa.

Previously accompanied by a Shingon Buddhism sect branch temple, the shrine’s spiritual landscape was transformed during the Meiji Restoration of 1868. The merger with Buddhism ceased, and the shrine regained its dedicated Shinto status.

Primarily an Inari shrine, devoted to the androgynous deity of fertility and worldly success, Hanazono Shrine has held a special place in the hearts of Tokyo’s businessmen. A destination for those seeking prosperous ventures, the shrine stands as a testament to the enduring connection between spirituality and daily life.

Tōgō Shrine

Established in 1940, the Tōgō Shrine (Tōgō-jinja) stands as a testament to the legacy of Gensui, the Marquis Tōgō Heihachirō, a revered Marshal-Admiral. Located in the vibrant Harajuku district of Tokyo, the shrine was conceived shortly after the Marquis’s passing, serving as a place of reverence and celebration for his remarkable life.

Although the original shrine fell victim to the Bombing of Tokyo, its spirit endured, and in 1964, the shrine was rebuilt to honor its namesake once again. At the heart of the shrine’s tranquil grounds, the Marquis Tōgō Heihachirō is enshrined as a Shinto kami, a deity honored through devotion and respect.

Within the shrine’s precinct, visitors can explore a small museum and a bookshop dedicated to the Marquis, providing a deeper understanding of his historical significance. Conveniently located near the crossroads of Takeshita Street and Meiji Avenue, the shrine is easily accessible from Harajuku Station, making it a cultural gem amidst the modern hustle and bustle.

While the physical remains of the Grand Admiral rest at Tama Cemetery in Tokyo, the Tōgō Shrine received a poignant relic in 2005. Admiral Tōgō’s original battle flag, raised during the pivotal Battle of Tsushima, found its way back to the shrine’s embrace after more than nine decades in Britain, symbolizing a profound connection between history and heritage.

Ōji Shrine

Ōji Shrine (Ōji-jinja), nestled in the picturesque Kita ward of Tokyo, Japan, carries within its sacred grounds a rich history dating back to the Kamakura period, with origins believed to stretch around 1321–1324. It’s not just a place of worship; the shrine has also bestowed its name upon the surrounding area, bestowing the district with the identity of “Ōji.”

Though the ravages of World War II left much of the original shrine buildings in ruins, the resilient spirit of Ōji Shrine prevailed. The period from the late 1950s to 1982 witnessed a remarkable revival, as the shrine was lovingly reconstructed to embrace its storied past.

Among its notable features, the giant ginkgo tree stands as a natural marvel, an ancient sentinel suspected to have graced the landscape for over 600 years. This majestic tree, designated a Natural Monument in 1939, is intertwined with the shrine’s identity, symbolizing endurance and timeless wisdom.

Annually, the shrine hosts a vibrant festival in August, marked by a mikoshi parade and the mesmerizing Ōji Jinja Dengakumai dance, one of Japan’s esteemed dengaku dances. This cultural celebration echoes through the centuries, inviting locals and visitors alike to partake in its jubilant traditions.

The shrine’s serene entrance is marked by an impressive concrete torii, a bird abode beckoning visitors to a spiritual journey. A tranquil sandō leads to the honden, the main hall, a marvel of Ishi-no-ma-zukuri architecture.

Shiba Tōshō-gū Shrine

Shiba Tōshō-gū, an illustrious Tōshō-gū Shinto shrine situated in Tokyo’s Minato ward, stands as a testament to history and cultural heritage.

Nestled within the serene expanse of Shiba Park, adjacent to the esteemed Zōjō-ji Buddhist temple and in proximity to Tokyo Tower, Shiba Tōshō-gū offers visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in a cultural tapestry.

This shrine, like its Tōshō-gū counterparts, reverently enshrines Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shōgun of the Tokugawa Shogunate, under the name Tōshō Daigongen. The shrine’s significance is further enhanced by the presence of a wooden seated statue of Tokugawa Ieyasu, which holds the distinction of being designated an Important Cultural Property by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Notably, the shrine is graced by a colossal ginkgo tree, one of Tokyo’s largest, soaring to a majestic height of 21.5 meters (71 feet) with a trunk measuring 6.5 meters (21 feet) in circumference.

Tradition holds that this tree was planted by Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third Tokugawa shōgun, during the shrine’s reconstruction in 1641. Despite some slight damage, it was designated a Natural Monument in 1956.

With no admission fee, the shrine welcomes visitors daily from 7 AM to 7 PM, inviting them to explore its historical treasures. Easily accessible from Shibakoen Station on the Toei Mita Line and Akabanebashi Station in the Toei Oedo Line, Shiba Tōshō-gū stands as a beacon of Japan’s rich heritage and spiritual devotion.

Ueno Tōshō-gū Shrine

Ueno Tōshō-gū, nestled in Tokyo’s Taitō ward, stands as a pristine example of Edo period Shinto architecture. Established in the first half of the 16th century, the shrine remains a remarkable relic of its time, with numerous surviving structures designated as Important Cultural Properties.

As a Tōshō-gū shrine, it venerates Tokugawa Ieyasu as Tōshō Daigongen. Additionally, Ueno Tōshō-gū pays homage to two other Tokugawa shōguns, Yoshimune and Yoshinobu. Nestled within Ueno Park, the shrine has evolved into a prominent attraction.

Established by Tōdō Takatora in 1627, Ueno Tōshō-gū was dedicated to the memory of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the visionary founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. The gongen-zukuri style honden was reconstructed in 1651 under Tokugawa Iemitsu’s supervision.

Unlike many nearby structures, Ueno Tōshō-gū endured battles, earthquakes, and even the Great Kantō earthquake in 1923, maintaining its integrity.

Enshrining Tokugawa Yoshimune and Yoshinobu, Ueno Tōshō-gū stands as a sanctuary of historical reverence. The intricate karamon gate, constructed in 1651, showcases elaborate carvings, including the legendary ascending and descending dragons.

These ornate embellishments are attributed to the renowned artist Hidari Jingorō, known for his contributions to Nikkō Tōshō-gū.

The shrine’s main building, a Gongen-zukuri style honden, interconnects worship hall, offertory hall, and main hall under one roof, dating back to 1651. While most precincts are open without charge, access beyond the karamon requires a fee. Ueno Tōshō-gū opens at 9 AM, welcoming visitors to explore its rich history and captivating peony garden.

Ōkunitama Shrine

Ōkunitama Shrine, situated in Fuchū, Tokyo, is a notable spiritual site formed by the consolidation of six shrines from Musashi province. This shrine stands as one of Tokyo’s five major shrines, alongside the Tokyo Great Shrine, Yasukuni Shrine, Hie Shrine, and Meiji Shrine.

The central shrine, dedicated to Ōkuninushi, is within a walled complex with inner and outer gates. Additionally, seven smaller subsidiary shrines encompass the main shrine complex: Matsuo Shrine, Tatsumi Shrine, Tōshōguu Shrine, Sumiyoshi Shrine, Ōwashi Shrine, Miyanome Shrine, and an Inari shrine.

The site also includes a sumo ring, Russo-Japanese War memorial, and remnants of the former Musashi provincial office.

According to legend, Emperor Keikō’s 41st year, equivalent to 111 AD, saw the shrine’s establishment. Notably, the shrine was rebuilt by Minamoto no Yoritomo during the Kamakura period, and Tokugawa Ieyasu after a fire in 1649.

The Kurayami Matsuri, one of the Kanto region’s oldest festivals, occurs from April 30 to May 6. Originally a courtship song festival, this event evolved into the Kurayami Matsuri, which now includes a masked folk dance and horse-racing along the Keyaki Namiki road.

This shrine complex, with its rich history and significant festivals, remains an emblem of Tokyo’s spiritual and cultural heritage.

Hie Shrine

The Hie Shrine, located in Nagatachō, Chiyoda, Tokyo, holds a significant place in the city’s cultural fabric. Its annual June 15 Sannō Matsuri ranks among Edo’s (the precursor to Tokyo) three grand Japanese festivals. Known by various names like Hiyoshi Sannō-sha and Sannō-sama, the shrine’s main deity is Oyamakui no Kami.

Established around 1478 by Ōta Dōkan, the shrine’s origins are still debated. Tokugawa Ieyasu shifted the shrine within the precincts of Edo Castle, and later his son moved it outside, allowing Edo’s residents to worship there. After surviving various challenges, the present shrine structure dates back to 1958.

Hie Shrine’s significance transcends its historical roots. It houses a National Treasure, a tachi sword, and 14 Important Cultural Assets, including swords and a naginata. Families flock to the shrine during the Shichi-Go-San coming-of-age festival.

Close to multiple metro lines, such as the Ginza Line and Namboku Line, the shrine remains easily accessible, maintaining its role as a spiritual and cultural haven.

Atago Shrine

The Atago Shrine, situated in Minato, Tokyo, is a Shinto shrine with its roots dating back to 1603 (the eighth year of the Keichō era) under the directive of shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu. The shrine’s current structures, however, were constructed in 1958.

Positioned atop Atagoyama, a hill that soars 26 meters above sea level, the shrine once commanded a splendid view of Tokyo, now obstructed by towering skyscrapers. The steep stairway leading to the shrine is renowned for symbolizing success in life.

As per legend, a daring young samurai rode his horse up the stairs to deliver plum blossoms to the shōgun. While the ascent took just a minute, the descent required 45 minutes, leaving the horse utterly fatigued. This event is depicted in a painting found within the main shrine hall.

Originally erected to safeguard residents from fires due to its vantage point, the main Shinto deity revered here is Homusubi no Mikoto, the fire god. The shrine also pays homage to other gods, including Mizuhanome no Mikoto (god of water), Ōyamazumi no Mikoto (god of mountains), and Yamato Takeru no Mikoto (god of the military).

Kasai Shrine

The Kasai Shrine, situated in Higashi Kanamachi, Katsushika district, Tokyo, holds a significant historical position as the head shrine for eleven local towns, historically classified as a “Gousha”.

Founded in 1185 during the Heian period’s end, the shrine was originally named Katori-gu, later being known as Kasai Shrine. It plays a vital role in the local history and culture.

The shrine is dedicated to various deities, including Futsunushi no kami, symbolic of defeating evil and achieving goals, Yamatotakeru no mikoto, famous for ancient legends, and Tokugawa Ieyasu no mikoto, enshrined due to his association with encouraging people’s efforts and symbolizing business success.

Kasai Shrine’s history extends to the origin of Matsuribayashi, a traditional regional Japanese band that began during the Edo Period. The shrine’s role in preserving cultural heritage is evident as Matsuribayashi continues to be played by people, with monthly practice sessions at the shrine.

The shrine hosts significant festivals like Tori no Ichi, a lively November event, attracting visitors to purchase Kumade talismans. Additionally, a monthly antique market showcases various items, from old pictures to traditional kimonos, enriching the cultural experience of the shrine.

Yushima Tenmangū Shrine

Yushima Tenmangū Shrine, nestled in Tokyo’s Bunkyō ward, boasts a rich history dating back to 458 AD. Known as Yushima Tenjin due to its dedication to Tenjin, the deity of Learning, this shrine stands as a symbol of academic aspirations.

Found near Ueno Park and the University of Tokyo, it’s a beacon for students seeking success, particularly during the April entrance exams.

The shrine’s allure intensifies with the blooming plum trees each spring, celebrated through the Ume Matsuri festival in February and March, drawing crowds of visitors.

Originally devoted to Ame-no-Tajikarao-mikoto, a deity linked to physical prowess, the shrine expanded its purpose in 1355 to enshrine Tenjin, associated with scholarship and learning, notably the revered Sugawara no Michizane.

Warlord Ota Dokan’s initiative in 1455 propelled the shrine’s popularity, attracting influential scholars in the Edo period. The shrine’s present structure, meticulously reconstructed in 1995, showcases the elegance of Shinto architecture, employing cypress wood and preserving tradition.

Suitengū Shrine

The Suitengū Shrine, nestled in Chūō, Tokyo, holds a unique devotion to four distinct deities: Amenominakanushi, Antoku, Kenrenmon-in, and Nii No Ama. Its name, “Palace of the Water Deva,” reflects its significance in aiding conception and safe childbirth.

Derived from the Hindu deity Varuna, the name “Suiten” signifies the shrine’s roots in Hindu-Buddhist influences in Japan. Initially dedicated to Suiten, the enforcement of the Shinbutsu bunri led the shrine to revere Amenominakanushi.

Established in 1818 as an offshoot of a shrine in Kurume, Fukuoka, Suitengu found its home within the Kurume Domain’s estate in Mita, Minato. The shrine was accessible to the public on the fifth day of each month. After the Arima family’s relocation to Akasaka, they carried the shrine with them, placing it at its present location on a former family mansion site in 1872.

The Suitengūmae Station, aptly named, stands nearby, reflecting the shrine’s significance. Across Japan, around twenty-five other shrines bear the same name, underscoring the uniqueness and importance of the Suitengū Shrine in Tokyo.

Fushimi Sanpō Inari Shrine

The Fushimi Sanpō Inari Shrine, nestled in the Shiba 3-chōme area of Minato-ku, Tokyo, is a significant Shinto shrine devoted to the worship of Inari, the deity of agriculture and fertility.

Positioned on Mita Dōri and adjacent to the Nippon Life Insurance Akabane Bridge building, this shrine’s unique copper roof and concrete construction distinguish it.

During the Edo period, the shrine’s location was known as Shiba Shin’ami-chō and once belonged to the Arima clan. The shrine’s history traces back to a pre-existing structure named Sanpō Inari, which was moved by a local resident, Kobayashi Shichibei, in the early Meiji period.

Later, Fushimi Inari-taisha in Kyoto granted the transfer of its Inari deity to Tokyo, leading to the shrine’s current name.

After several relocations in the vicinity, the shrine found its current home in 1985. Overlooking the Mita Dōri road and standing in proximity to the iconic Tokyo Tower, the shrine is encircled by residential and office buildings. Notably, the Nippon Life Insurance’s Akabane Bridge Building, Saiseikai Central Hospital, Shiba Park, and the Italian Embassy in Tokyo are nearby landmarks.

Tokyo Daijingu Shrine

Tokyo Daijingu Shrine, often referred to as O-Ise-sama in Tokyo, holds a significant place in the cultural and spiritual landscape of Tokyo. Established in the early Meiji period by Jingu-kyo, the shrine was a way for Tokyo’s residents to worship the deities enshrined at the Grand Shrine of Ise from a distance.

Originally named Hibiya Daijingu, it played a pivotal role in enabling people to pay homage to Amaterasu and other revered deities.

This sacred site, situated in Iidabashi, Tokyo, underwent several transformations over the years. After being relocated following the Kanto Earthquake in 1923, it was named Iidabashi Daijingu. Subsequently, in the aftermath of World War II, the shrine adopted its current name, Tokyo Daijingu.

The shrine’s enshrined deities, including Amaterasu, Toyouke-no-Ohkami, Ameno-Minakanushi, Takamimusubi, Kamimusubi, and Yamatohime-no-mikoto, hold profound significance in Japanese culture.

Tokyo Daijingu also made history by hosting the first Shinto wedding in an urban setting, a practice that gained popularity nationwide. As Tokyo Daijingu continues to honor its heritage and the deities it reveres, it remains a revered and cherished destination not only for Tokyo’s residents but for the entire Kantō region.

Kameido Tenjin Shrine

Kameido Tenjin Shrine, nestled in Kameido, Koto Ward, Tokyo, stands as a testament to the veneration of Sugawara no Michizane, a distinguished 9th-century Japanese scholar. This shrine, known as a Tenman-gu shrine, serves as a revered place of homage to the accomplished statesman.

The shrine’s history is rooted in the honor of Sugawara no Michizane, who faced political turbulence despite his remarkable contributions to the Japanese imperial court. Following his passing, Japan was struck by natural disasters, attributed by some to Michizane’s restless spirit. In response, shrines across the nation, including one in the imperial capital Kyoto, were constructed to appease the kami of Michizane.

In 1646, Kameido Tenjin Shrine was established in Tokyo, then a vital port city. Over the years, this shrine became a focal point for Tokyo’s residents to pay their respects to Michizane.

Unfortunately, the original wooden shrine fell victim to the ravages of World War II. Post-war efforts led to the shrine’s resurrection using more contemporary materials like concrete, while retaining its essential features.

The shrine’s allure lies not only in its historical significance but also in its picturesque setting. Tranquil ponds connected by drum bridges and flourishing plum trees enhance its surroundings. The shrine hosts the Fuji Matsuri festival from April to May, celebrating the bloom of wisteria and adding a vibrant dimension to its cultural calendar.

Every year on January 25, the shrine offers a hand-carved lucky charm to a visitor, symbolizing the enduring connection between tradition and the present.

Ono Shrine

Ono Shrine (Ono Jinja), situated in the Ichinomiya district of Tama city within Tokyo Metropolis, stands as a prominent Shinto shrine with historical significance. It proudly claims the title of ichinomiya, holding a significant place in the former Musashi Province.

Annually, the shrine’s main festival unfolds on the second Sunday of September, drawing locals and visitors alike. This festival, deeply rooted in tradition, reflects the shrine’s importance in the cultural tapestry of the region.

The deities enshrined at Ono Jinja encompass a diverse spectrum of divine entities. Among them are Ame-no-shitaharu-no-Mikoto, the revered ancestor of the Chichibu Kuni no miyatsuko, and legendary figures like Izanagi no Mikoto, Susanoo no Mikoto, Ōkuninushi, and more, each with their own significance in Japanese mythology.

While the precise origins of Ono Jinja remain shrouded in mystery, historical mentions of the shrine can be traced back to early records, including the Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku and the Engishiki.

Throughout its history, Ono Jinja underwent periods of reconstruction, notably during the Sengoku era, when it was restored by the Late Hōjō clan and Ota Dokan. During the Edo Period, it enjoyed the patronage of the Tokugawa shogunate.

In the modern era, Ono Shrine retains its importance, offering a spiritual haven amidst urban life. Easily accessible from Seiseki-Sakuragaoka Station, the shrine continues to be a place of reverence, culture, and tradition, encapsulating the essence of Shinto belief in Tokyo’s bustling landscape.

Tomioka Hachiman Shrine

Established in 1627 within the Fukagawa district, Tomioka Hachiman Shrine stands as Tokyo’s most significant Hachiman shrine, boasting a rich and intricate history. Hachiman, the revered kami of the shrine, was also a local deity of the Minamoto clan, enjoying the protective favor of the Tokugawa shogunate.

This spiritual abode was affectionately known as “Hachiman of Fukagawa” among the people of shitamachi.

Through the Meiji period, the shrine’s fortunes shifted, losing its special favor but being honored as one of the Tokyo Ten Shrines by the Meiji government. However, its past wasn’t free from adversity.

The shrine was ravaged during the Tokyo bombing in March 1945. Even Emperor Shōwa visited the devastated precincts, comparing the aftermath to the Great Kantō earthquake.

Tomioka Hachiman Shrine also claims a significant role in sumo history as the birthplace of Kanjin-zumō, the foundation of modern professional sumo in 1684. It hosted sumo tournaments, giving rise to the sport’s essential structures.

The shrine’s Yokozuna Stone, erected in 1900, commemorates successive yokozuna, fostering a deep connection between sumo and Shinto spirituality.

Kume no Heinai-dō Shrine

Nestled in Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo, the Kume no Heinai-dō Shrine is a modest folk sanctuary. Within its premises stands a stone statue of Kume no Heinai, a notable samurai of the early Edo period (17th century).

While limited historical records exist about his life, it’s believed that he passed away in 1683. Renowned for his mastery in Kenjutsu, the art of swordsmanship, Heinai is said to have taken numerous lives.

In his later years, he sought redemption by embracing Zen Buddhism and resided at Sensō-ji temple in Asakusa, where he conducted rituals to honor those he had slain. Before his demise, he instructed his followers to carve his likeness on a stone, to be buried near Niōmon, an entrance gate to the temple and a bustling city area. His wish was that his statue would be stepped upon by many, cleansing him of past misdeeds.

Initially dubbed Fumitsuke, meaning “to tread on,” the shrine evolved into a place named “love letter,” due to language shifts. Despite this shift, both names are pronounced Fumitsuke.

Today, the shrine is frequented by the public as a patron of marriage and matchmaking. The shrine faced destruction in March 1945 during World War II but was reconstructed in October 1978, continuing to hold its historical and cultural significance.

The post Most popular Shinto shrines in Tokyo, Japan appeared first on HistoTravel.

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Most popular Shinto shrines in Tokyo, Japan


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