⛩ Japanese Shrine Appreciation Thread ⛩

Part three.

If this wasn’t where you saw your thread going, @DIO-Berry, let me know and I can slow down. Or stop. :slightly_smiling_face:

Ishiura Shrine

Kanazawa, Ishikawa
This is apparently the oldest shrine in Kanazawa, though I’m honestly not sure what drew me to it - we just happened to be walking past on the way to Kenroku-en. They were setting up for some manner of festival, but we didn’t stay long enough to find out what.

Oyama Shrine

Kanazawa, Ishikawa
One of the noteworthy things about this shrine is that the main gate is not a Japanese-style torii nor a Chinese-style structure, but this three-storey European tower, complete with stained glass (though there is a torii gate at the bottom of the entrance stairs). Unfortunately, I’d forgotten the second spare battery for my camera this day, so I have comparatively few photos of this place (managed by squeezing every last volt from the other two batteries).

Hiyoshi Taisha

Otsu, Shiga
One of the Twenty-Two Shrines (i.e. those designated by the Emperor as being of particular importance), this shrine is related to Enryaku-ji, the temple complex on mount Hiei. It’s also known for its Sannou style torii gates (depicted below). Unfortunately, we arrived here after a long day of exploring Enryaku-ji, so it was quite closed, and I haven’t actually been inside. Next time, perhaps.

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Fushimi Ward, Kyoto
Again, yes, but this time there’s a festival on. (Actually, I think this is the only shrine in Japan that I’ve actually visited twice. So far, anyway.) Specifically, it’s the Shinko Festival, one of Fushimi Inari’s two biggest festivals, when all the mikoshi get taken out to a place near Kyoto Station, where they convey blessings on the area (the other biggest festival is when they come back again). There were many people. And an alley with festival booths. And I’m going to have to visit again sometime, because I still haven’t climbed to the top of the mountain…

Omi Jingu

Otsu, Shiga
This is the shrine where the national karuta tournament is held in January (for all-comers) and July (for high-school students). Though my friend and I visited in April - same day as Fushimi Inari above, actually, and they were also holding a festival, the Omi Matsuri. (It’s not always the same day as Fushimi Inari’s Shinko Festival, because they judge the date a bit differently, but they quite often coincide.) In contrast to Fushimi Inari, my friend and I were most certainly the only caucasians present. We might have even been the only people present who didn’t actually live in Otsu, because it definitely felt like a festival of the local neighbourhoods - each one had their own mikoshi. We were able to walk right into the inner courtyard, which you can’t usually do. (I bought my second shuincho here - the sakura-pink one.)

Kaiunfukutoku Benzaiten Shrine

Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo
Happened to come across this while wandering around in the forest after visiting Nunobuki Falls. Very closed for the night, but very pretty.

Horikoshi Shrine

Tennoji Ward, Osaka
I came here looking for a point of interest I’d seen in Pokemon Go - a segment of the Berlin Wall - but it turned out to be located in the temple standing behind it. It was very pretty nonetheless, though. Very leafy. Though also raining.

Sumiyoshi Taisha

Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka
Supposedly one of the oldest shrines in Japan, it’s also the ur-example of the Sumiyoshi-zukuri architectural style.

Chiba Shrine

Chuo Ward, Chiba
Definitely not one of the oldest shrines in Japan - the main hall actually looked quite modern. Some of the structures seemed so substantial that it almost felt like a temple, but no, it’s a shrine. (Just learnt now that it was built as a temple in the year 1000, but converted to a shrine in the Meiji Restoration, so there you go.)

Hatonomori Hachiman-gu

Shibuya Ward, Tokyo
Noteworthy in that it contains a Fujizaka - a miniature version of Mount Fuji built with actual rocks from Mount Fuji, so that you can do your mountain worship without having to leave the city. Apparently it’s Tokyo’s oldest Fujizaka.

Hie Shrine

Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo
I mainly visited this place only because I was aiming for a different temple, but hadn’t realised that the map I was looking at was upside-down (wall maps in Japan tend to be oriented so that up is the direction you’re currently facing, and at the time, I was facing south). It was extremely pretty, all the same. Part of it’s an Inari shrine, which is an added benefit. And it’s also got Sannou torii.

And thus endeth my third trip in Japan. A couple fewer shrines this time - I did this trip with a friend, and I’m kinda wondering if I unconsciously scheduled fewer shrine and temple visits than when I travelled alone.

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I love your posts! They’re exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for. :slight_smile: I’m adding so many places to my “want to go” map, it’s great! It’s making me really look forward to seeing more of Honshu.

The only thing I would do different is add your favorite ones explicitly to the 2nd post in the thread. That way it’ll become a cool recommendation with hopefully a little something from everyone over time :smiley:

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Aside from visiting minor islands like Miyajima, I’m still yet to actually venture off Honshu…

You’re asking me to pick favourites? :stuck_out_tongue:

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Yep, but you’ve been a lot of places I haven’t! I’ll try to get more of my photos in order so I can share a lot more of Kyushu :smile:

How about a top five? :stuck_out_tongue: or maybe 1 per prefecture?

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Part four, my second solo trip. Perhaps as a solo trip, it’ll take me two posts to get through them all? Let’s find out.

Yoshida Muku Shrine

Chichibu, Saitama
The location of the Ryusei Matsuri, which was (sort of) featured in Anohana. I actually made plans to visit Chichibu before I discovered that the Ryusei Matsuri took place that same weekend, so that was quite a nice coincidence. (Though on the downside, Typhoon Hagibis also made landfall that weekend, albeit on the Saturday, while the festival was on the Sunday.)

Kaminodai Inari Shrine

Chichibu, Saitama
While doing as much of the Chichibu 34 Kannon pilgrimage as I could manage in a single day (starting from number 10, because the bus to number 1 wasn’t running thanks to Hagibis), I came across this little Inari shrine in the hills above Jorakuji (number 11). Curiously, most of the usual Inari-style torii gates seemed to be missing, with only the bases left behind.

Imamiya Shrine

Chichibu, Saitama
This used to be a part of temple 14 (Imamiya-bo) on the pilgrimage, or possibly vice versa. Now it’s quite a nice little shrine, with lots of statues, and trees, and statues in trees.

Chichibu Shrine

Chichibu, Saitama
Chichibu’s main shrine, once regarded as the very centre of the city (in Edo times, the Chichibu pilgrimage started here and spiralled outwards, now it’s between temples 15 and 16). It’s the location of the Chichibu Night Festival on December 3rd, apparently one of Japan’s three biggest festivals. The main hall apparently faces directly towards Mount Buko in the city’s south, though I admit I didn’t exactly pull out my theodolite and check.

Futaarayama Shrine

Utsunomiya, Tochigi
(And until this moment, I genuinely thought it was called Futaarasan Shrine…) This is Utsunomiya’s main shrine - apparently the shrine came first, and Utsunomiya was built around it, but I haven’t quite worked out if the “miya” in Utsunomiya means that the city was named for the shrine. In any case, the huge staircase at the front is one of its best known features, though I had to climb them after just having eaten forty-two gyoza. Urp.

Nikko Tosho-gu

Nikko, Tochigi
The head shrine of all the Tosho shrines, and the actual resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu (posthumously deified as Tosho Daigongen, hence the name of the shrine). This is one of the big famous shrines, and is the location of the well-known three wise monkeys carving. I happened to arrive on day one of the shrine’s two-day autumn Grand Festival - I watched some horseback archery, but I had stuff to do, so elected to pass on coming back for the main events the following day.

Nikko Futarasan Shrine

Nikko, Tochigi
(This one’s definitely Futarasan. I checked.) Hiding behind, and rather overshadowed by, Tosho-gu, despite being almost a thousand years older. Much more in tune with the nature around it as well. And somewhat less expensive to enter.

Hikawa Shrine

Kawagoe, Saitama
While planning this trip, I discovered that the Kawagoe Matsuri was also taking place while I was in Japan, so I rearranged things so that I could go see it. The Kawagoe Matsuri was originally a festival of this specific shrine, but modelled after Edo’s Tenka Matsuri, it became a festival for the whole city, with each district pulling its own float around the place. I got a special two-page Kawagoe Matsuri slash Reiwa Gennen goshuin from here.

Kawagoe Kumano Shrine

Kawagoe, Saitama
Might be a subordinate shrine of the Kumano Sanzan - I haven’t been able to find anything definitively stating it, though it does use the same yatagarasu symbol around the place. I didn’t spend too much time here, because hey, there was a festival going on.

Shussei Inari Shrine

Kawagoe, Saitama
Yes yes, Inari shrine, but! That’s not what brought me here. Actually, I came here because there was a Pokemon Go raid at this shrine’s gym. But! That’s not why I’m bringing it up now. Well, it’s sort of is. Because, see, since I spent some time at Kumano Shrine, I arrived late for the raid, so most people there were already fighting. I found myself standing next to a mother-and-child pair who were also fighting in the “leftovers” group along with me, and when we were finished, she invited me to join in with pulling her district’s float. So I spent the whole evening actually taking part in the festival. So it’s a bit smaller than most of the shrines I’ve posted here, but I’ll always have a soft spot for this shrine. :grinning:

Hakusan Shrine

Hiraizumi, Iwate
Part of the World Heritage-listed Chuson-ji temple complex (actually, Hakusan Shrine came first, and Chuson-ji muscled its way in). Compared to the rest of the mountain, there were very few people up here. (And it’s definitely read as Hakusan - I made a point of asking.)

Uh… and somehow I only visited a single shrine in the second half of this trip. How did that happen?

Well, that brings me to the end of my fourth (and so far last) visit to Japan…

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Holy cow what a lot of shrines. And a lot of memorable experiences. And nice pictures. :slight_smile:

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They might’ve been replacing or restoring the wood/paint.

Even more places to add to my map list :star_struck:

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My map list looks like this, though they definitly ain’t all shrines.

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Here’s mine :joy:


I still need to add your shrines, but I figure this thread isn’t going anywhere and neither am I with rona cases going up lol

About 100 of those are anime goods shops since a lot of them just have coordinates and not actual listings

I’ve been to Kyoto and Osaka, but I think I just had a written list and didn’t add to it on Google maps :thinking:

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Some info about dances at Hiroshima’s/Miyajima’s Itsukushima Shrine. I feel like ritual dances are pretty common at shrines.

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Intriguing. Wonder if it’s worth visiting for one of these. Wondering how crowded it’d be.

What month is the Kikkasai?

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How busy it would be depends on the season really. Winter is typically the least busy time to travel, particularly February. Early January is a no-go because nearly every Japanese person in the area is going to their first shrine visit of the year, and Itsukushima Shrine is the most popular in the area.

Spring is a popular time to travel (for cherry blossom viewing) especially late March/early April because the kiddos are on spring break. Golden Week during late April/early May… well, forget about going anywhere to be honest, lol. If you like to line up early for things as much as Japanese people, then you should get there at least an hour early to see anything happen.

Summer time is popular for obvious reasons, particularly Obon season in August. Also, any national holidays in Japan, but there’s fewer in fall. That’s probably the best season because you can enjoy the fall colors! The only good thing about winter is fresh oysters (which you won’t find at Miyajima anyway - pick them up at the local supermarket instead) and the rare case that it snows, but as soon as it falls, it melts. There might be some snow at the top of Mt. Misen (the mountain on Miyajima) now, but the paths are natural and narrow, it would be dangerous to climb if you’re not experienced.

But that’s just my 2 cents living nearby. :slight_smile:

Also, Kikka-sai is in October. There’s also many more festivals (including ritual dances) that aren’t listed in the pamphlet. Some are unscheduled just so only the locals can enjoy them. Miyajima is the biggest tourist attraction in the city, so it’s natural they’ll have festivals nearly every month. They built a website in English in anticipation for the Olympics but haven’t updated it because of the pandemic. You can find it here.

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Thank you for so much detailed additional information!

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I want to share one of the coolest shrines I’ve ever visited.

岩国白蛇神社 Shirohebi Shrine (Iwakuni)

As you might have realized from the name, this place enshrines white snakes. The most unique thing about it is that the snakes are actually at the shrine (still?). They have been breed for generations upon generations. Some are kept outside in a large, natural enclosure.

And others inside in a humid room to encourage mating.

The snakes are very well cared for and the priests save the sheds of the skins and use them in various art pieces.



Produced in snake shed and reproduced in the phamplet for the shrine in embossed form.

Bell charm from Shirohebi Shrine

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The one I saw when I went was very interesting. I recommend going if you can. It was January 3 when I went, and it was pretty crowded. If you go around New Year be prepared for big crowds.

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These are tremendous–thank you so much for posting these! They are lovely to see, and it’s great to get the various historical details!

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Commenting to remind myself to share shrine from that middle middle place

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How about that shrine from the 中中 place?

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Thank you, my memory is shit lol

Here we have Oouo Shrine in Saga!

It’s pretty small, but it has great visual impact. It’s mainly a set of three :shinto_shrine: on a lake. The final one actually has a basin so that it’s always floating.

If you’re in the area, I recommend a short detour :slight_smile:


Some tiny friends in the area


And a photo shamelessly lifted from Google

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