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Writer:Yuta Sakaguchi

Hi, I’m Yuta. I grew up and live in Yokohama, a port city near Tokyo. I once lived in Kichijoji, located in the western part of Tokyo. I love walking around a street and taking pictures. On my article I introduce attractions mainly of Tokyo with many wonderful pictures. Please enjoy them!

Kanda Myojin Shrine: a representative shrine in Tokyo

February 6, 2015

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Zuijinmon Gate


Kanda Myojin Shrine is one of the representative shrines in Tokyo. The shrine has a long history, which was established in 730. It is located near Ochanomizu station and Akihabara station. The vermilion-lacquered main shrine and Zuijinmon Gate are must-see spots. The enshrined deities are Onamuchi no mikoto (Okuninushi), Sukunahikona no Mikoto and TAIRA no Masakado. The shrine was once located in present Otemachi and moved to the present site where is located to the northeast (the direction believed to be unlucky in Onmyodo [yin-yang philosophy]) of Edo Castle (the present Imperial Palace) in 1616. In the Edo period it was highly respected by Edo Bakufu (Shogunate government) and since then it has been familiar to the people in the area around the shrine as the Edo Sochinju (the center place to pray for local gods). Ujiko machi (the area of the shrine parishioners) is wide including Kanda, Nihonbashi, Akihabara, Otemachi and Marunouchi.

The buildings

The main shrine built in 1782 was burnt down in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and the present one is rebuilt in 1934. It is a splendid Gongen-zukuri style shrine, which is a steel-reinforced concrete and vermillion-lacquered building. Zuijinmon Gate was rebuilt in 1975 in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Emperor Showa's accession to the throne. It is a beautiful Irimoya style two-storied gate built with only a Japanese cypress. In addition, there are several auxiliary and subsidiary shrines in the precincts.

Torii (a gate of the shrine)

The approach to the shrine

The view of the main shrine from Zuijinmon Gate

The main shrine

Auxiliary and subsidiary shrines

The enshrined deities and the benefits

The enshrined deity was once only Onamuchi no mikoto when the shrine was established in 730. Onamuchi no mikoto is also a deity of Izumo Taisha Shrine and is considered as a god of marriage. Though the god is seen as the same as Daikokuten (the god of Wealth) of Buddhism and Mahakala of Hinduism in Japan, the god is considered as one bringing prosperous trade and good harvests as well as good matches and its look is mild. The god is called Daikoku-sama and familiar to many people. There is a stone statue of Daikoku-sama next to Chozusha (building for cleaning hands and rinsing mouth).

The stone statue of Daikoku-sama and Chozusha

TAIRA no Masakado, one of the deities as well, was a person who established an independent nation in the Kanto region and revolted against the Imperial Court in 10th century. After his rebellion failed and he was executed, natural disasters occurred around the burial mound of Masakado's head in present Otemachi and people were afraid that it might be the direct influence of the evil spirit of him, so he was enshrined in Kanda Myojin Shrine for reposing the soul in 1309. TAIRA no Masakado had been revered by many people including military commanders such as Dokan OTA and Ujitsuna HOJO because he had an outstanding bravery and was popular with the people. In 1600 Ieyasu Tokugawa who later became the ruler of Japan played for victory at the shrine and won the Battle of Sekigahara, which was to decide who would rule Japan, so the shrine is known as one that benefits games. After a government centering on the Emperor was established in the Meiji period (1868 - 1912), TAIRA no Masakado’s spirit was moved to a different place because he was the Emperor's enemy. But the time was ripe after the World War and his spirit was enshrined again in 1984.

It is Sukunahikona no Mikoto that was enshrined instead of TAIRA no Masakado in 1874 when his sprit was moved to a different place. Sukunahikona no Mikoto is called Ebisu-sama and believed to grant prosperous business. Therefore there are many companies whose managers or all staff visit the shrine for Hatsumode (the practice of visiting a shrine or temple at the beginning of the New Year).

Kanda Matsuri (Kanda Festival)

Kanda Matsuri; quoted by Osekkaiya

The Grand Festival of Kanda Matsuri (Kanda Festival), which is held once every two years, is one of Three Major Festivals in Edo (present Tokyo) and Japan. The festival is actively celebrated. It is held in the middle of May and mikoshis (portal shrines) parade in Ochanomizu, Kanda, Akihabara, Nihonbashi, Ningyocho, Otemachi and so on.

Love Live!

Special envelopes for monetary gifts; quoted by the official website

I heard that the shrine appears in an anime called “Love Live!” and is familiar to the fan in recent years. There are goods, such as charms, votive tablets and special envelopes for monetary gifts, made jointly with “Love Live!”.



By the way, Amanoya standing by torii (a gate of the shrine) is an old store, which was found in 1846. It is famous for Amazake (sweet mild sake) that is made from fermented rice in the loamed chamber dug 6 meters underground. Shibazaki Natto (fermented soybeans), Edo Miso (sweet red soybean paste) and Hisakata Miso (soybean paste mixed with ingredients) are popular too. You can also order them at the caf set up next to the store. The mikoshi (potable shrine) displayed in the store is actually used in Kanda Matsuri as a mikoshi for women.

Kanda Myojin Shrine is a representative shrine in Tokyo, and its buildings are splendid and worth seeing. It is near major sightseeing spots such as the Imperial Palace and Akihabara, so I recommend that you visit there.



Summary of Ochanomizu

Yushima Seido (Sacred Hall at Yushima)