Tokyo Stroll: Goshuin Collecting #7―Increasing Romantic Luck at Imado Shrine in Asakusa

06.June.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

In the Tokyo Stroll series, we take you on a trip to various locations around Japan’s capital. One of the frequent locations are shrines. In this entry, navigator Ellie takes a stroll to Imado Shrine in the Imado area of Asakusa where the first maneki-neko, or waving cat was created during the Edo Period. The shine is said to be the birthplace of the maneki-neko.

浅草 今戸神社 鳥居 東京さんぽ

The closest station to Imado Shrine is Asakusa Station. It’s about a 15 minute walk from there, but you can reach it quicker on the Megurin Bus for just ¥100.

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Emperor Ōjin is enshrined at Imado Shrine, as is Izanagi and Izanami, who are the central deities in Japan’s creation myth and the country’s first husband and wife deities. As such, the shrine is popular as a ‘power spot’ for successful marriage. The god of wealth and longevity and one of Asakusa’s Seven Lucky Gods, Fukurokuju, is also enshrined here. The shrine is also recognised as one of Tokyo’s 8 Shitamachi shrines that people make a pilgrimage to.

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As always, when arriving at a shrine, wash your hands at the chozuya water purification basin before heading to the main shrine. Take the ladle with your right hand, scoop up plenty of water, and rinse your left hand first.

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Next, switch hands. Hold the ladle with your left hand and rinse your right.

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Then take the ladle with your right hand once more, pour some water into your left hand and rinse your mouth. Never bring the ladle directly to your mouth, and do not swallow the water or spit it back into the basin. There will be an area below the basin, like a bed of rocks, where you can spit the water out.

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After rinsing your left hand one more time, pour out any remaining water into the rocks like the motion pictured above, and return the ladle.

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Once you’ve finished purifying yourself at the chomizuya, it’s time to head to the main shrine. When praying, remember this: two bows, two claps, one bow. Straighten your posture and begin with two bows.

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Clap twice and bow one final time.

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Decorating the main shrine are waving cats the size of children! Their names are Nagi-chan and Nami-chan, a reference to Izanagi and Izanami. The patterned cat on the left is Nagi-chan, the male, and on the right Nami-chan, the female.

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There are also stone cats sat by the shrine. There’s a rumour that if you set a photo of these cats to your phone’s wallpaper you’ll find a good matching partner for yourself! Generally, it’s said that waving cats with their right paw raised are for good financial luck while cats with their left paw in the air are beckoning humans. Nagi-chan and Nami-chan have their right paws raised. At Imado Shrine, it’s thought that it’s easier to call someone over with your dominant hand, and that people and money are interlinked, so even though they have their right paws up these waving cats are good for finding a match.

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There are cats scattered all over the shrine grounds, so you’re sure to feel your heart warmed and healed simply by walking around.

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The ema wooden plaques are an eye-catching sight around the grounds, packed together tightly around the sacred tree and around the chomizuya. Round-shaped ema aren’t seen very often, they are normally a square shape with a tip at the top. Ema are used for writing on your prayers and wishes. ‘Round’ in Japanese is en (円) which is a homophone also meaning ‘destiny’ (縁). The round-shaped ema originate from the idea of a sense of harmony and peace in life with nothing sticking out, i.e. a circle has no edges. To ensure your destiny, when you pray, write on the ema with a red string illustration around it, and when your prayer is fulfilled, write on the one with the kimono.

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Once your prayers are all done, it’s time to head to the confer area. They have many things on display, including ema, waving cats, lucky charms and more.

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Ellie gets herself a goshuin stamp for ¥300.

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The goshuin stamp at Imado Shrine is waving cats and Fukurokuju.

浅草 今戸神社 御朱印帳 招き猫 東京さんぽ

They sell original goshuincho stamp books at the shrine with waving cat designs. There’s pink, blue and navy and they’re all very cute. If you’re thinking of starting to collect goshuin at shrines and temples around Japan then you should definitely visit Imado Shrine first.

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There’s several different omamori charms too, including the regular designs as well as round designs. Just like the ema, the round designs are made to represent no ‘edges’ in your life, just harmony. They’re all ¥800 and each have the same effect. The pink one is limited-edition and has hearts embroidered on the front and back♡ The limited-edition designs change on a whim which many people look forward to.

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Imado Shrine is also said to be the place where sword master Souji Okita met his fate, so if you’re a history buff be sure to check out the gravestone.

 

Imado Shrine is a must-visit while sightseeing in Asakusa. It has a happy aura to it thanks to the clowder of waving cats around. You can also see Tokyo Skytree from the grounds.

 

■Information

Imado Shrine

Address: 1-5-22 Imado, Taito, Tokyo

Opening Hours: 9am-5pm

TEL: 03-3872-2703
Access: 15-minutes on foot from Asakusa Station / 5-minutes on foot from Asakusa 7-Chome bus stop (浅草七丁目) via Toei Bus / 1-minute on foot from ‘Riverside Sports Center’ bus stop (リバーサイドスポーツセンター前) via Kita Megurin Bus in Taito

Website: http://imadojinja1063.crayonsite.net

 

Outfit

SODA SMILE T-shirt:¥8,000 FOUNTAIN  SERVICE Cap:¥4,000

POP COLOR Skirt:¥12,500

*all prices include tax (Aymmy in the batty girls)

 

Model: Ellie

Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

Writer: Sayoko Ishii

Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

RECOMMENDED ENTRIES

  • Tokyo Stroll: Learn the Manners & Etiquette of Worshipping at Onden Shrine – The Site of Marriage & Beauty Blessings

    14.March.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

    In this featured series, we introduce you to ‘power spots’ and goshuin at shrines on the outskirts of Tokyo. Today, we’ll take a look at Onden Shrine, one of the locations where “MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FESTIVAL 2018 in SHIBUYA” will take place, Japan’s biggest inbound event set to hit Shibuya and Harajuku on March 24th and 25th. Ellie visited the shrine to learn about the manners and etiquette behind praying at shrines in Japan.

     

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    The Waterwheel at Onden (Katsushika Hokusai, Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, Reproduction)

     

    Onden Shrine is located just a 10-minute walk from both Shibuya Station and Harajuku Station via the JR Yamanote Line or 7-minutes from Meiji-Jingumae Station via the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line. It has been enshrined in Harajuku for more than 400 years where it has watched over the area. The area around Onden has a long history. In the Edo Period, the flowing Onden River was used for rice cultivation. This historical background is depicted together with Mount Fuji in Katsushika Hokusai’s Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.

     

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    Deities enshrined at Onden Shrine include Omodaru no Kami and Ayakashikone no Kami. These deities give blessings for marriage ties between husband and wife, as well as in blessing and improved skill in art. The picture above is of Mutsuko Funada who lectured Ellie on the manners and etiquette of worship. You too can use this opportunity to learn together with Ellie.

     

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    Shrines are sacred places. Upon visiting one, be sure to bow once at the torii gate. Keep in mind that the center of the path up to a shrine is where the gods walk, so it’s  best to walk at the edge of the path rather than directly down the middle.

     

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    Next, you must cleanse yourself at the temizuya, or “water purification basin.” Take the ladle with your right hand, scoop up some water, and rinse your left hand.

     

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    Do the same again but this time switch hands – hold the ladle with your left and rinse your right hand.

     

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    Take the ladle again in your right hand, pour some water in your left hand and rinse your mouth. It’s best not to show your mouth as you do this.

     

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    Lastly, tip the ladle to drain the water. Don’t scoop water from the basin multiple times – use just one scoop of water for the entire cleansing.

     

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    手水舎で身を清めたら、いよいよ参拝です。社殿の前で軽く一礼しましょう。お賽銭を入れて鈴を鳴らして、神様にお参りに来たことをご奉告します。そして、社殿に向かって二礼、二拍手、一礼をします。

     

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    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

     

     

     

     

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    Red and white plum blossoms dotted the surroundings of the shrine. We recommend taking photos in a photogenic area like this for your social media.

     

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    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    It’s common at shrines to see komainu. They take on the form of an imaginary lion-dog-like animal, and it’s said that the shape of their mouth makes express the sacred ‘om’ sound. The one with its mouth opened is called Agyou and the one with its mouth closed is called Ungyou. Be sure to check them out when you visit a shrine.

     

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    There is also an Inari shrine at the grounds which is home to the deity of agriculture, industrial manufacturing and commerce, so be sure to pray to them all collectively.

     

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    東京さんぽ 原宿・隠田神社 エリー

    Today’s main mission was also a success – Ellie managed to collect her ‘goshuin’ shrine stamps! She received one for each shrine – the Inari shrine stamp is on the left and the Onden Shrine stamp is on the right. Both cost \300.

     

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    Onden Shrine is a site for blessings in things like marriage and beauty. It offers a lot of keywords particularly favoured by girls, so it’s definitely one to visit. There’s a range of good-luck charms for sale at the shrine, including one for marriage that’s inspired by the blooming plum blossoms in the shrine grounds, one for beauty and more, so if you’re interested you should definitely check them out. We will be holding an event called “MOSHI MOSHI ENNICHI” at “MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON FESTIVAL 2018 in SHIBUYA.” You can look forward all sorts of stalls like you’d see at a Japanese festival lined with lots of food, activities like yo-yo fishing and more! There will also be a stage where you can witness a Japanese ‘taiko’ drum performance, and there will also be a character DJ festival where DJs will dress up and perform. The bustling atmosphere of a Japanese festival is perfect to enjoy on dates, please be sure to drop by.

     

    ■Information

    Onden Shrine

    Address: 5-26-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

    TEL: 03-3407-7036

    Access: 10-minutes on foot from “Shibuya Station” or “Harajuku Station” via the JR Yamanote Line / 7-minutes on foot from “Meiji-Jingumae Station” via the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line

    URL:http://www.ohmiya-hachimangu.or.jp/

     

    Outfit: Aymmy in the batty girls

  • 【Tokyo Stroll】Collecting a Goshuin Stamp at Ōmiya Hachiman Shrine – Tokyo’s Foremost Hachiman Shrine

    28.February.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

    In this regular article series, we introduce you to ‘power spots’ and goshuin at shrines on the outskirts of Tokyo. This time, our navigator Ellie visited Ōmiya Hachiman Shrine which you can reach from Shibuya Station via the Keio Line and Inokashira Line. Take the train to “Nishi-Eifuku Station” and it’s a 7-minute walk from there. The shrine is the third largest in Tokyo after Meiji Shrine and Yasukuni Shrine.

     

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    Ōmiya Hachiman Shrine has a long history – this year marks 955 years since it was established. There are numerous Kami (gods) enshrined here, including Emperor Ōjin, who also goes by the name Emperor Taichu which translates to ‘center of the womb.’ He is a Kami of household harmony, marriage, conception after a shrine visit, easy childbirth, and child rearing. The shrine gets the nickname “Tokyo’s Belly Button” for being located in the center of the city. It’s famous as a ‘power spot’ where one can return to the womb.

     

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    This sacred tree is called Kyosei no Ki, or “Tree of Symbiosis.” A nutmeg tree, it gets its name from the parasitic inuzakura flowering cherry that grows from it, living in a symbiotic relationship. Because the two trees have continued to live together mutually as one, many people visit the tree to pray for family happiness.

     

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    This is another power spot at the shrine: the chikaraishi, or “power stones.” During the Edo period, these stones were offered to compare the strength of the divine. There are 14 stones of varying weights and sizes, from 101kg to 187kg.

     

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    Another popular power spot is the “Happy Gaeru” – large stone frogs placed which, if you stroke, are said to bring happiness.

     

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    Before praying at a shrine, it’s customary to cleanse yourself at the temizuya (water basin) before heading in. First, pick up the ladle and hold it with your right hand and rinse your left hand.

     

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    Do the same thing but this time hold it with your left hand and rinse your right.

     

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    Afterwards, take the ladle in your right hand once more, pour some water into your left hand and rinse your mouth with it. Make sure not to bring the ladle to your mouth and don’t swallow the water. Spit the water next to the fountain – never directly into it. Rinse your left hand one more time.

     

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    Lastly, take the ladle with both your hands and pour out the remaining water from it next to the fountain. Once your ‘temizu’ session is complete, return the ladle neatly to its original upside-down position so it’s ready for the next person to use. Let your wet hands dry naturally, don’t use a handkerchief or hand towel.

     

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    You can’t receive your goshuin stamp straight away, so it’s best to wait on the goshuin reception before you make your way to the main shrine. (Make sure you get your stamp after you have prayed!)

     

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    It’s time to pray. Firstly, perform two deep bows at a 90°angle. Bring both hands to your chest and open them up shoulder-width apart. Clap twice. Keep your hands together and pray. Once you have finished praying, bring your hands down and perform one last deep bow.

     

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    We successfully received another goshuin stamp in our book. It costs just ¥300 to receive one.

     

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    Did you enjoy this Tokyo Stroll? Ōmiya Hachiman Shrine is also known as one of the three big shrines of Musashi Province. It brings good fortune to childbirth, child rearing and marriage, so it was a shrine we wanted to recommend for women. The power spots in the spacious shrine grounds are perfect for refreshing your mind.

     

     

    ■Information

    Ōmiya Hachiman Shrine

    Address: 2-3-1 Omiya, Suginamu-ku, Tokyo

    TEL: 03-3311-0105

    Access: 7-minutes on foot from “Nishi-Eifuku Station” and 10-minutes on foot from “Eifukucho Station” via the Keio Line and Inokashira Line

    Website: http://www.ohmiya-hachimangu.or.jp/

     

    Model: Ellie

    Writer: Ryoichi Komaba

    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

     

    Outfit: Aymmy in the batty girls

  • 【Tokyo Stroll】Getting a ‘Goshuin’ at Tokyo Daijingu—Japan’s shrine for successful marriages

    27.December.2017 | FEATURES / SPOT

    In this edition of Tokyo Stroll we head to a Japanese shrine, often dubbed a ‘power spot’ where one can uplift their energy and spirit. It’s also a place where you can get a ‘goshuin,’ a special type of stamp obtainable at many temples and shrines around Japan. Today, Ellie takes us to Tokyo Daijingu, a 19th century shrine hugely popular with women as a power spot for love & relationships. Let’s go!

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    Tokyo Daijingu is easily accessible from all parts of the city by train. The closest station is Iidabashi Station which is linked to the JR Chuo-Sobu Line, the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho, Namboku and Tozai Lines, and the Toei Ōedo Line. If you’re up for a longer stroll, then you’ll be happy to know that this area is a popular tourist spot complete with Tokyo Dome City, Koishikawa-Kōrakuen and more, so be sure to have a walk around and check out the area.

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    Tokyo Daijingu was originally constructed in Hibiya and was popularly known by the name Hibiya Daijingu. After the Great Kantō Earthquake struck in 1923, it was moved to where it sits now and was renamed Tokyo Daijingu after the Second World War. Enshrined at Tokyo Daijingu are the deities Amaterasu-Sume-Okami and Toyouke-no-Okami, as well as 3 deities responsible for the creation and growth of all things, which has brought Tokyo Daijingu great value as a shrine for love, relationships and weddings.

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    A frequently asked question when visiting shrines is how to maintain proper etiquette when it comes to ‘temizu,’ a process of cleansing one’s hands and mouth before entering a shrine. There are people who tend to ignore the process, but cleansing your mind and body the ‘temizuya’ (water basin) is key etiquette in Japan before worshipping at a shrine.

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    Firstly, hold the ladle in your right hand, scoop up some water and rinse your left hand.

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    Then do the same swapping both hands – hold with your left and rinse your right.

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    Afterwards, take the ladle in your right hand once more, pour some water into your left hand and rinse your mouth with it. Make sure not to bring the ladle to your mouth and don’t swallow the water.

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    Spit the water next to the fountain – never directly into it. Rinse your left hand one more time.

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    Lastly, take the ladle with both your hands and pour out the remaining water from it next to the fountain. Once your ‘temizu’ session is complete, return the ladle neatly to its original upside-down position so it’s ready for the next person to use. The origins of temizu note that people would cleanse themselves at the surrounding rivers and spring waters before entering the shrine precincts. Today, however, there are concerns about the quality of the water in rivers as well as the guarantee of true spring water. The ‘temizuya’ was introduced to replace them.

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    Tokyo Daijingu is famous for being the first shrine to establish the Shinto wedding ceremony in Japan. In 1900, the Crown Prince Yoshihito, who later went on to become Emperor Taishō, married at Tokyo Daijingu in front of the imperial sanctuary gods. Since then, it has come to be a location where the common people hold Shinto weddings.

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    The time has finally come – let’s go get our goshuin at the reception located to the left of the shrine! The first stamp costs ¥300.

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    By the reception are lots of cute ‘omikuji’ (fortune slips) lined up, so be sure to get your hands on one when you visit to have your fortune told. They are also famous for their marriage blessings. And if you’re coming from overseas, then do not fear as the omikuji are also written in English.

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    The omikuji are self-service, so pay your donation into the box and take out a slip while thinking about what fortune you want.

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    Ellie also prayed for marriage and chose a ‘love’ omikuji. She received a ‘chu-kichi’ blessing! Omikuji are ranked by blessings: there’s dai-kichi (great blessing), kichi (blessing), chu-kichi (middle blessing), sho-kichi (small blessing), sue-kichi (ending blessing), kyo (curse) and so on. No matter what blessing you receive they are words from god, so make note of their contents and work with them in your daily activities.

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    Tokyo Daijingu is a power spot and that is especially so at the sacred tree. Mini waterfalls murmur here, making it a relaxing place to heal yourself.

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    While we’re here, let’s also take a look at the proper etiquette for praying at a shrine! When there’s an offertory box at a shrine you must first offer a donation. Then, once you’re relaxed, you can begin with the bowing.

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    Firstly, perform two deep bows at a 90°angle.

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    Bring both hands to your chest and open them up shoulder-width apart. Clap twice.

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    Keep your hands together and pray. Be sure to give gratitude for the everyday things in your prayer.

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    Once you have finished praying, bring your hands down and perform one last deep bow. Be sure you don’t forget that final bow. This is the most common form of etiquette for praying at a Japanese shrine. It’s easy, just remember: 2 bows, 2 claps, 1 bow. It’s the most common form of prayer at any shrine so be sure to have it memorized before you go to pray.

     

    Tokyo Daijingu can be accessed from also anywhere in the heart of Tokyo. The shrine grounds have a peaceful atmosphere and are a perfect breather after praying. Make it your first shrine visit of the year and make a wish for you and your loved one.

     

    ■Information

    Tokyo Daijingu

    Address: 2-4-1 Fujimi, Chiyoda, Tokyo

    Opening Hours: 6:00-21:00

    Contact: 03-3262-3566

    Access: 5-minutes by foot from “Iidabashi Station” via the JR Chuo-Sobu Line, Tokyo Metro Yurakucho, Namboku and Tozai Lines, and the Toei Ōedo Line

    URL:http://www.tokyodaijingu.or.jp

     

    Outfit
    L/S Tshirt:¥4,320 / MA-1:¥13,651 /  Corduroy trousers:¥12,787

    ※All taxes included(Aymmy in the batty girls)

     

    Model: Ellie

    Writer:Ryoichi Komaba

    Photograph:Haruka Yamamoto

  • Tokyo Stroll: Atago Shrine—worship the fire god at Ninuri Gate and receive a goshuin

    06.December.2017 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Shrines in Japan are considered a ‘power spot’ which means they are overflowing with energy and healing properties. They’re also a place where you can receive a very special stamp known as a goshuin. Today, Ellie will take us on a stroll to Atago Shrine, a fantastic tourist destination that is easily accessible from Roppongi.

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    Atago Shrine is a great place for people to stop by during their work break due to its easy accessibility. You can reach the shrine in 5 minutes by foot from Kamiyacho Station via the Hibiya Line or 8 minutes by foot from either  Toranomon Station via the Ginza Line or Onarimon Station via the Toei Mita Line. If you’re up for a real stroll then you can reach Atago Shrine in 20 minutes by walking from JR Shimbashi Station.

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    The first thing you will see upon arriving at Atago Shrine is the towering set of stone steps which go by the name Shusse no Ishidan. A samurai called Magaki Heikuro is known for having gallantly ascended the flight of steps on horseback during the Edo period. It’s quite a challenge to climb the stairs quickly, but it’s a good idea to try as the stairs are symbolic of climbing the ladder to success in life, so be sure to give it a go! But do not fear as there is an elevator for anybody unable to ascend the steps.

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    Atago Shrine is located atop Mount Atago, the highest mountain of Tokyo’s 23 wards at an altitude of 25.7m. It was formerly a place where many people would gather to look out over the mountain where one can see Tokyo Bay and even the Bōsō Peninsula.

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    The red gate at Atago Shrine (pictured above) is known as Ninuri no Mon, or “red painted gate.” Arranged on various sections of the gate is the aoi-mon crest, a familiar symbol with Mito Kōmon. The Atago Shrine was built on the order of Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603 to enshrine a deity of fire protection.

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    Before praying at the shrine, you must first purify yourself by washing your hands and mouth at the water basin. Initial cleansing of yourself is the proper etiquette to praying at a shrine.

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    In front of the shrine is a maneki-ishi (beckoning stone). It is said that if you stroke the stone you will be blessed with good fortune. So many people have touched the stone that the surface has become smooth!

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    The fire god Homusubi no Mikoto is the main deity enshrined at Atago Shrine who not only offers protection against fire and fire-related disasters, but brings good fortune to businesses and marriages too.

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    Another hidden wonder of Atago Shrine are the many cute animals that roam around. Photographed above is Tina-chan, a dog based at the shrine offers who watches over visitors to the shrine. They also offer omamori, or ‘charms’ for your pet, so if you’re an animal lover then make sure to drop by the shrine office.

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    There are many other animal guests besides Tina. There are 3 cats that used to be lost who now roam around various places at the shrine grounds during the day. Those who encounter them might be a lucky few. If you can’t find them then you should wait for feeding time at 9am and 5pm – you’ll meet them much easier this way.

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    There’s also a huge healing pond home to lots of koi carp looked after by the shrine staff that are sure to raise your spirits!

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    Here we are at last, the main event—receiving a goshuin (shrine/temple stamp) in our goshuincho (stamp book). It costs a ¥300 donation to receive one here (this is the common price).

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    You can receive special inscriptions in your goshuincho at Atago Shrine during certain events such as the Nanakusa Hotaki Matsuri in January and Sennichi Mairi Hoozuki Ennichi at the end of June.

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    This is an Inari shrine where Uganomitamanokami is enshrined. People worship this guardian deity for the protection of the necessities of daily life and agriculture.

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    There’s also a Benzaiten shrine to worship Ikichishihime-no-Mikoto, a god that brings luck of economic fortune, so can be prayed to for either a thriving business or a successful career.

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    Atop the apex of the highest mountain in Tokyo’s 23 wards you will find healing nature in lavish abundance, so much so that you will completely forget you are even in the city! The NHK Museum of Broadcasting is also close by, another recommended tourist spot to consider after visiting Atago Shrine. The shrine is associated with good fortune when it comes to success in life and business, so if you’re an adult and working full time, why not stop by for a visit?

     

     

    ■Information

    Atago Shrine

    Address: 1-5-3 Atago, Minato, Tokyo

    TEL: 03-3431-0327

    Access: 5 minutes by foot from Kamiyacho Station via the Hibiya Line / 8 minutes by foot from either  Toranomon Station via the Ginza Line or Onarimon Station via the Toei Mita Line / 20 minutes by foot from JR Shimbashi Station

    Homepage: http://www.atago-jinja.com

     

     

    Outfit

    Frill Blouse – ¥13,824 / Sailor Melton Coat – ¥32,184 / NIGHT SCHOOL Pleated Skirt – ¥18,144 / LILLY Beret – ¥6,264

    *all prices include tax (Aymmy in the batty girls)

     

     

     

    Model:  Ellie

    Writer: Ryoichi Komaba

    Photograph: Haruka Yamamoto

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

  • 【Tokyo Stroll】 Lost in a world of shrine arches and lucky sand! Head to Anamori Inari Shrine near Haneda airport!

    31.May.2017 | FEATURES / SPOT

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    Anamori Inari Shrine is located near Haneda Airport. Many visit Anamori Inari Shrine to pray for success in business, or for safe travels. This is one of the many places where one may honor Oinari-san (the god of wealth, harvests and fertility). The sand at the shrine is believed to bring good luck. Take some home and scatter it to bring good fortune in business or for good health. Many visitors return home from this Shrine with this sand. We took a walk to this shrine with Elly-chan to discover its long-lasting history and traditional culture.

     

    Anamori Inari Shrine’s mascot – “Kon-chan”

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    Anamori Inari Shrine is located approximately 2 kilometres away from Haneda Airport. The nearest station to the shrine is Anamori Inari station, which is a 3-minute ride on the Keihin Kyuko line (Keikyu line) from Haneda Airport International Terminal station. If you’re in Shibuya, change to the Keihin Kyuko airport line (Keikyu airport line) at Shinagawa station. The journey is approximately 20 minutes.

     

    Exit Anamori Inari station and you will notice the cute fox mascot “Kon-chan” waiting for you. As the locals commute to work or school and as the tourists go by, Kon-chan watches over all of them, bringing them warmth. Throughout the seasons and on special occasions, the stone statue of Kon-chan is dressed in stylish clothes, which we’ve heard were made by the locals by hand.

     

    The hall of worship protected by a large shrine archway and a fox

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    Anamori Inari has a history dating back to the year 1818. The shrine was built to protect Haneda, which was once flooded. The shrine was once located within the premises of Haneda airport before ww2, but it was moved after the war to a nearby location, as many of the locals were forced to move. The large shrine archway we see at Haneda airport today originally belonged to the old Anamori Inari shrine. Even to this day, as if the shrine archway protects the surrounding area.

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    There are foxes both on the left and right side of the hall of worship. These foxes greet the visitors. Look to the left and you will be greeted by a male fox. Look to the left and you will see a female fox embracing a baby. Looking closely at their faces reveals their impressive expressions.

     

    Receive a cute fox stamp book

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    We visited the Juyosho, which is the building that sells temple goods. Here, we bought a stamp book. The design was an orange undertone and cute image of a fox. The ceremony fee costs ¥1,500 and to receive a shrine stamp in your stamp book costs ¥300.

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    The gorgeous stamp is a sign of worship. When you receive one, first join hands and pay your respects to the shrine.

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    There are many items available for purchase at the Juyosho, such as fox “Tsukaihime” and “Anamamori”, which bring good fortune. There is also a small charm you can purchase which will provide you with a safe flight – a charm that holds historical value with Haneda Airport and can only be purchased here.

     

    >>next page

  • 【Tokyo Stroll】Kill some time at tourist spots around Narita Airport during your flight layover

    08.November.2017 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Many people find themselves with a lot of free time when at Narita Airport, whether in transit or going back home, and must find things to fill the time with. In this edition of Tokyo Stroll, we take a look at some of the best tourist spots around Narita Airport to fill your time with if you find yourself in this situation.

     

    From visiting temples to buying souvenirs, the surroundings of Narita offer a range of exciting things to make those long hours fly by! Let’s take a stroll together with Yuna Yabe and Eri to see some of the wonderful sights.

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    Visit “Naritasan Shinshoji Temple” just 10-minutes from the airport by train

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    If you have a spare 2 or so hours to kill then Naritasan Shinshoji Temple is a great location to stop by. Simply board the Limited Express train from Narita Airport via the Keisei Main Line and get off at Keisei Narita Station. The journey is just 10 minutes. What greets you as you approach the shrine is a 15 meter high gate constructed from keyaki wood. Many people enter through this gate to go and worship at the main building.

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    As Yuna and Eri walked toward the main building through the Niomon Gate they came to the Nioike Pond where turtle-shaped rocks were poking out of the water. There were lots of turtles sunbathing on top of the rocks. Legend says that if you throw a coin onto one of the rocks and a turtle goes onto the same rock your wish will be granted. You can see lots of coins on the rocks.

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    Once you pass the pond and climb the stairs you will arrive at Naritasan Shinshoji Temple’s main building.

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    The Goma Ceremony has been practiced at the temple every single day since its founding. People’s prayers are offered to Fudomyoo in front of a fire to fulfill people’s worries and wishes. After praying, Yuna and Eri received a temple seal for their goshuincho temple seal notebook.

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    They also got their hands on an omikuji each. They opened it up, and… both of them received “Great Blessing,” the best fortune you can receive from an omikuji! The omikuji have English written on the back too, so be sure to flip yours over if you can’t read Japanese.

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    Naritasan Shinshoji Temple also has a number of designated important cultural properties, so there’s plenty of amazing architecture to see if you visit. If you’ve got some spare time while in transit, then how about taking some time to learn some Japanese history?

     

    ■Information

    Naritasan Shinshoji Temple

    Address: 1 Narita, Narita, Chiba

    Access: 10-minutes’ walk from Keisei Narita Station via the Keisei Main Line

    Website: http://www.naritasan.or.jp/

     

    Get souvenirs at the AEON Mall only available in Japan!

    While you can get your hands on souvenirs at the airport, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that most people want something sold only in Japan such as snacks or other little trinkets. The next spot we’re taking a look at is the Narita branch of the AEON Mall. You can get a direct bus there from Narita Airport. Buses also leave from Keisei Narita Station, the closest station to Naritasan Shinshoji Temple.

     

    The AEON Mall has it all – clothes shops, entertainment facilities, sundries, food and more. It’s perfect for shopping with friends or having fun together with your family at the entertainment services. It’s equipped with just about anything for anyone to enjoy.

     

    We recommend doing your souvenir shopping at AEON Mall. And what better to spend your money on that Japanese snacks!

     

    Yuna’s Recommended Snack

    The most popular snack bought by travelers is the baumkuchen cake. It’s packed with just the right amount of sweetness. You can get a full, uncut cake in its distinct round shape, or you can get individual cut pieces in bags.

     

    Eri’s Recommended Snack:

    One of the big snacks to buy from Japan is matcha flavoured Kit Kat. You can get this and many other flavours of Kit Kat at the AEON Mall. There are even limited edition seasonal flavours that are sold with the changing seasons, so make sure to be on the look out.

     

    Besides snacks, cosmetics are another popular item. The AEON Mall is lined with a string of different brands who also offer testers of their products. There are plenty of affordable items to find in the line-up perfect as a gift to a friend. The best way to find something you like is to just get in there.

     

    People from all over the world visit the AEON Mall in Narita so there are duty free counters. It’s possible to get tax exemption from items purchased in the mall. There’s a counter near the 1st floor beauty products corner so make sure to head there once you’ve bought something.

     

    ■Information

    AEON Mall Narita

    Address: 24 Uingutsuchiya, Narita, Chiba

    Website: https://www.welcome-aeon.com/

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    After a long day of sightseeing and shopping, we’re back at Narita Airport. Did you enjoy seeing some of the tourist spots around the airport?

     

    Narita Airport also offers the Transit & Stay Program for people who have long layovers, so be sure to check it out and make the most of your time there.

    Models:Yuna Yabe / Eri

    Photos:Kayo Sekiguchi

    Writer:Sayuri Mizuno (ASOBISYSTEM)

    Translator:Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

     

RELATED ENTRIES

  • Kyoto’s Capsule Hotel Anshin-Oyado Now Offering Plan to Take Guests to Sacred Sword Locations

    10.September.2019 | SPOT

    Capsule hotel Anshin-Oyado Premiere Kyoto Shijo Karasuma introduced a new plan on September 6 which gives guests the chance to go and see sacred places across Kyoto associated with Japanese swords.

     

    October 4th is known as “Japanese Sword Day” in Japan. In Kyoto alone, the number of people visiting from distant places to see sacred sword places, as well as collect goshuin stamps from shrines and temples, is on the increase-as is the number of people staying at Anshin-Oyado Premiere Kyoto Shijo Karasuma. That’s where this new guest plan comes into play.

    The plan will take guests around different parts of Kyoto, so the hotel as prepared three options to cater to all guests’ needs: one that offers a rental bicycle, a ticket to use the subway or bus, or the normal plan. You will receive a map which shows you the most efficient way to get around all the locations. There is also a QR code on the map which not only shows where you can park your bicycle if you go for that option, but also where to collect goshuin stamps.

     

    Moreover, to really slash home those sword memories, guests will be lent a free selfie-stick which also acts as a tripod. There is also a separate powder room for guests wanting to dress up in full sword cosplay gear too which can be used until checkout.

    Guests can also rent a portable power bank for their phone so they don’t have to worry about their battery running out when snapping photos amongst other amenities, and have free use of the massage chairs, foot baths, open-air baths, and more to rest up after their long pilgrimage around Kyoto seeing the different swords.

  • Japan’s Keio Line Releases ‘Goshuin’ Stamp Book For Tourists

    29.August.2019 | SPOT

    In response to the rapidly increasing number of foreign tourists to Japan in recent years, Keio Corporation has designed an original Keio Line goshuin stamp book which will be released at the “Central Honshu Information Plaza in Keio Shinjuku” at Shinjuku Station on September 1.

     

    A Goshuincho is a book for collecting goshuin, which are stamps or seals given at shrines and temples across Japan. Every shrine and temple has its own unique goshuin which are stamped alongside calligraphy handwritten by the staff there and then who write the date and the name of the temple or shrine.

     

    When purchasing Keio’s book, you are given a pamphlet―available in English only―featuring lots of different sites you can receive goshuin up and down the train line.

    Sites include the Buddhist temple Yakuou-in (Hachioji, Tokyo), Takahata Fudoson Kongo-ji Temple (Hino, Tokyo), Ōkunitama Shrine (Chofu, Tokyo), Jindaiji Temple (Chofu, Tokyo), and Ohmiya-Hachimangu (Suginami, Tokyo). The pamphlet also explains how to obtain a stamp as well as the correct way to worship at these locations. It also details information about train ticket discounts on the Keio Line for foreign travellers which were introduced in February this year.

    The book will also be available to purchase at Keio Rail-Land from October 14.

  • A Date With Yutaro: Soaking Up the Japanese Summer Sun & Visiting the Art Aquarium | Tokyo Stroll

    16.August.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    It’s been a while since our last date with Yutaro. He’s been very busy with film shoots. He had some spare time today so we paid a visit to Nihonbashi for our next date. “ECO EDO Nihonbashi: Enjoy Cool Edo With All Five Senses” is an event held every year in the Nihonbashi area which takes the Edo period cultural idea of “coolness”―an in, to enjoy being cool during the summer-and puts a modern spin on it. There are many exciting things to look forward to, including the art aquarium which proves massively popular every year.

     

    We gave ourselves more time to arrive at the meeting place to be in the safe side, but it seems Yutaro-kun was already there waiting for us!

    Nihonbashi Information Center | IPPIN CAFÉ “Sparkling Herb Tea” – ¥518 (Tax Included)

    “Here, you must be boiling.” Yutaro-kun kindly offers a cup of IPPIN CAFE’s limited-edition sparkling herb tea. It’s a delicious mix of fizzy soda and lemon, a perfect refreshment for the summer. Since he ordered takeout the drink came with a goldfish straw. Goldfish are a staple sight during Japanese summer festivals so it’s very fitting for the occasion! 

     

    With our drinks in hand, it’s time to head to Nihonbashi for our Edo summer date!

    Wind-Chime Forest Path

    Lining the path between Fukutoku Shrine and Fukutoku Garden is the Wind-Chime Forest Path where around 200 Edo-style wind chimes dangled. This year, during the evenings, the path is illuminated with beautiful lighting. 

    When the breeze rolls past the wind chimes ring one by one-a cool and refreshing sound.

    “I hear each one of these Edo wind chimes are individually handmade by craftsmen.”

    When you hear the sound of the wind chimes it makes you feel cool like a gentle breeze of the wind.

     

    After strolling along the Wind-Chime Forest Path we make our way towards this year’s ECO EDO Art Aquarium event.

    The moment we step instead Yutaro is already dazzled by all the goldfish: “Wow! I knew about this place from what I’d seen online, but this my first time here! This art aquarium really is something!”

     

    The full title of the event is “ECO EDO Nihonbashi ART AQUARIUM 2019 ~Edo, Coolness of Kingyo~ & Night Aquarium.”  Goldfish were a huge part of the common culture in Nihonbashi during the Edo period. This event recreates that and brings that “coolness” aspect while combining it with contemporary art by having people observe the fish in lots of different artistic environments.

    Super Oiran

    “This is the biggest fish tank, apparently it has 3,000 fish swimming inside!”

    “Seeing the light reflect on the water from the illuminations lets you see the fish in a different light, doesn’t it?”

    Looks like Yutaro-kun is having a lot of fun taking photos.

    He’s equally interested in just about every fish tank!

    These other fish tanks have a different aesthetic to them. Their Japanese-style designs make for great photos.

    Kaleidorium 3D

    “This one’s beautiful, it’s like a kaleidoscope.”

    It really does look like one. When you take a peek instead you can glimpse all kinds of colourful fish gently swimming around.

    Ceiling Kingyo

    “There’re goldfish swimming on the ceiling too. So cool! This aquarium is incredible. It brings together the great culture of Edo and contemporary art.”

     

    The Art Aquarium bustles every single year with visitors, but this year will mark its last run. It’s being held at Nihonbashi Mitsui Hall, so if you have the chance to go then please do.

    We of course checked out some local Nihonbashi treats too! We stopped by morozoff for some cheesecake after the aquarium.

    morozoff Kamadashi Cheesecake (Goldfish) – ¥270 Each (Tax Included)

    These cute cheesecakes with their goldfish designs are available for a limited time only. They’re filled with sweet red bean paste. They perfect with iced tea.

    “Got some! Let’s eat them while we head back.”

    Goldfish Lantern Walkway

    Our first date in Nihonbashi was so much fun. While on the date Yutaro-kun spoke about the new live-action film he’s in, Kaguya-sama: Love Is War.

     

    “It’s a romance film with mind games to try and make the other person confess their love. I play the character Tsubasa. His number one highlight scene is the kabedon scene. That was my first day shooting, so I was super nervous, but I got along well with the other actors, and the atmosphere on set was harmonious, so I was able to relax for the shoots. Tsubasa is a genuine guy who will believe things that have been said to him in earnest. You’ve definitely gotta check out all his scenes throughout the film!”

     

    “A lot of the cast are the same age as me, so we were all energetic together in the waiting room. There’s a scene at the end where all the cast get together. It took 3 days to shoot so we ended up getting along really well.”

     

    “This film has made me realise that love comes in many shapes, and that mind games happen in a variety of ways between guys and girls. There’s cute scenes that express that small bit of pride that teenagers have, the embarassment they feel, when they get butterflies, scenes that will warm your heart. The film has various elements to it so I thoroughly enjoyed watching it myself. I hope that couples in love in their teens and twenties watch it, and I also hope that married couples watch it and crack up laughing too.”

     

    “In the film it’s summer break, and they go and see fireworks and stuff. It’s definitely one to watch durnig the summer. You’re gonna come watch it too, right? Shall we go?”

     

    An offer we cannot refuse! We’ll definitely go and see it with you, Yutaro-kun! 

     

    Model: Yutaro

    Writer: Yuki Yokoo

    Photographer: Kayo Sekiguchi

    TALENT PROFILE

    Yutaro

    Yutaro was born in Hiroshima on June 3rd 1998. His modeling career has earned him lots of attention as a fashion icon of the new generation. The famous model also works as a “charisma” shop assistant. Yutaro has gained his reputation as a “mysterious and handsome guy” from his appearance on Japanese variety shows. His debut was made on the show “Gyoretsu no Dekiru Horitsu Sodanjo” and has since then appeared on numerous different TV shows. He challenged himself to appear on stage for the very first time in March this year and is gaining popularity by the day for his diverse work.

  • Tokyo Stroll: The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone #11 – ‘Hatoya’ in Asakusa

    16.August.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD

    In this edition of The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone, I visited Hatoya which is located in Asakusa Shin-Nakamise Arcade.

     

    The streets of Tokyo’s historical district of Asakusa are packed to end with cafés. You can be spoiled for choice, but Hatoya stood out to me in particular as it’s an especially old café. Business there began back in 1927 but the actual building was built back in the Taisho period, meaning its history spans more than 90 years ago!

     

    The outside appearance of the shop is smart and chic so it’s very easy to spot. I couldn’t tell by looking from the outside, but the inside is full of old decorations and odds and ends which make you feel the history of the café.

    One reason why I wanted to visit this place so much is because I was drawn to their logo. It’s really retro-kawaii so I just couldn’t resist!

    You should take some photos too if you visit.

    It was time to head inside. It’s really comfy and cozy in there; the atmosphere was nice and relaxed.

    Framed on the wall is a map of the Asakusa area during the Taisho era. Hatoya became famous back then because people could buy coffee for a mere 5 sen (a single sen is one-hundredth of a yen).

     

    When business first began at Hatoya, because the café was opposite the stage door of a theatre, all of the famous actors and actresses would pop in. Some include famous Japanese comedian Roppa Furukawa and film actor Kiyoshi Atsumi who played Tora-san in the film series Otoko wa Tsurai yo.

    I ordered the café’s popular hotcakes which cost ¥600. They have been making these same hotcakes since before the war.

    They were nice and fluffy and had a deliciously gorgeous brown colour. The flavour was out of this world when the butter melted from the heat of the hotcakes and mixed together with the syrup.

     

    The portion might look like a lot but they are fluffy and have a light flavour so can be finished with no problem.

    And is the café’s signature milkshake (¥500).

     

    It’s so refreshing that you can knock it back all in one go. It has a simple flavour but it tasted so good!

    I also ordered the ¥600 cream soda, my favourite beverage.

    I’ve been to many cafés, and have covered many in this series, but this is the first I have dined at with such a deep history. I found myself enthralled by the stories of the owner who has continued to treasure the café and maintained it all the same since it opened. I feel like I have learned about a world I never knew about. The next time I go to Hatoya with a friend I’ll be sure to let them in on its history. I encourage you to visit too!

     

    Writer/Model: Ema Tanioku
    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto
    Design: Yuko Abe (ASOBISYSTEM)

    TALENT PROFILE

    Ema Tanioku

    “Emaeri” is the nickname for models Ema and Eri Tanioku, who are Aomoji fashion model twins. Ema and Eri Tanioku specialise in twin fashion coordination. Over the years their fanbase has increased due to their cute looks. Ema Tanioku spreads Harajuku culture within Japan as well as overseas and works as a Harajuku Tourism Ambassador. Starting off as a model, Ema has broadened her talent range from fashion magazines to TV, and from playing the lead role in dramas to movies.

  • Once Every 33 Years a Secret Door at Tenjō-ji Temple in Kobe is Opened

    04.August.2019 | SPOT

    The Buddhist temple Tenjō-ji is located on Mount Maya at the heart of the mountainous area of Mount Rokko. This month, something very special is happening at the temple. An elusive door housed there is opened only once every 33 years, and this month from August 1 to 15, it is open.

    Tenjō-ji is the only temple in Japan that has a building dedicated to Maya-bunin, the mother of Buddha. Its long history begins with Hōdō Sennin, an Indian high priest who build the temple at the behest of Emperor Kōtoku. In Japan, Maya-bunin is worshipped as as symbol of easy childbirth and child-rearing. Mount Maya, the mountain on which Tenjō-ji sits, is named after her.

    Mount Maya, located in Kobe’s Nada ward, is a 702 meter tall mountain and one of the major peaks of Rokkō Mountains. It is close to the town areas of Kobe, and from the mountain peak one can see Kobe, Osaka, the Kii Peninsula, Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge and more, making it a popular tourist destination. It’s also frequented by Kobe locals who visit with their families to eat bento, as well as couples looking to catch a glimpse at the gorgeous nightscape atop the mountain apex.

    Inside the secret door now open at the temple until August 15 are three hidden Buddhist idols: the Eleven-Faced Avalokitesvara, Acala, and Vaiśravaṇa. This is very much a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so if you’re lucky enough to be in Japan right now, you won’t want to miss this extremely special occasion. If you do, you’ll have to wait another 33 years!

     

    While it is open there will be talks and faith healing by the priests three times a day (10:30/12:00/14:00), exclusive celebratory merchandise, limited-time goshuin stamps, and more.

  • Tokyo Stroll: Shopping & Sightseeing with Mozuku-kun the Dog #5 – Uzumako Ceramic Art School

    12.July.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    It’s been a minute since we last ventured out with Japanese model Yuna Yabe and her beloved pet pup Mozuku. If you’re new to this feature, Yuna Yabe takes her trusty partner Mozuku to various hot spots in Japan that you can enjoy with your pet dog. Their relationship continues to deepen in this priceless experience.

    Today, Yuna and Mozuku head to Uzumako Ceramic Art School which is close to Shiba Park. You can get a good view of TokyoTower from this famous park.

    What’s unique about this art school is that visitors are allowed to take their pets with them. So this means you can take your dog with you to do some ceramics!

     

    Yuna has always had an interest in ceramics. And what better way to experience creating something than with her partner in crime Mozuku! With him tottering beside her, she headed through the entrance curtain with a spring in her step.

    When you enter the classroom, there are lots of examples of pottery ware lining the shelves. The room has that smell of craftsmanship which lingers as you begin the class with a demonstration by the teacher. Once you have your apron on and are fired up to begin, it’s time to start.

     

    The work begins with kneading the clay to make its firmness uniform. This step helps prevent air bubbles from forming.

     

    Yuna asked the teacher many different questions as she enjoyed kneading her clay. “Where does ceramic work originate from?” “What kind of things to other dog owners make when they come here?”

    “What’s Yuna up to?” Mozuku’s puzzled face seemed to imply as he listened to Yuna and the teacher talk.

    Yuna turned to Mozuku and said to him, “I’m going to make you a food bowl!” It seemed like the message got through as his face read, “Looks like my owner is making something just for me.”

     

    Yuna wet her hands with some water and began forming a hole in the centre of her clay bundle. The hole forms and gets bigger as the pottery wheel spins.

    Next, she used both of her hands to ensure the thickness of the bowl was even all the way around.

    “Amazing! The shape of the clay changes in an instant!”

    By adding a little bit of pressure the pile of clay can change shape rapidly. It’s like a living thing.

    “It’s like the clay is my own child. I wanna wrap it up!”

    Once the shape is formed, Yuna cut around the edges. She is a skilled individual, she got the hang of it straight away.

    Mozuku sat right beside Yuna, quiet and curious.

    “Is it my turn yet?”

    He seemed itching to have a go at making something himself too.

    He watched over Yuna’s work from atop the table.

    “I wanna try spinning the wheel too!”

    Mozuku in fact had the most important job of all. Yuna popped a wooden mould onto his paw and stamped a paw print into thebottom of the bowl.

    “There we go!” said Yuna

    Mozuku mustered all of his strength to make his mark, his facial expression unusually serious as he carried out his big task.

    Time to check if the print was done properly!

    Here’s the final product―Mozuku did a great job!

     

    Their teamwork paid off as they were able to create a really cute dog bowl. The tiny footprint is packed with pet love. The art school actually sells a lot of different cute and stylish pet items but the owner making their own makes it unique―the only one in the world.

     

    If that love is able to get through to your pup, the food they eat from the bowl is sure to be even more delicious.

     

    Thanks for your help, Mozuku.

    “I can’t wait to fire it!” Yuna’s excitement was peak from start to finish. She was very satisfied after the class finished.

     

    After two weeks of waiting, the bowl was completely finished.

    Why not try creating something unique special for your own pet―together with them?

     

    Model: Yuna Yabe/Mozuku @yunaaay1030

    Text: Ai Watanabe

    Photographer: Kayo Sekiguchi

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

    TALENT PROFILE

    Yuna Yabe

    Yuna Yabe won the grand prix prize at the “Zipper×ASOBISYSTEM Model Auditions” at the age of 15. She is an expert not only in fashion but make-up and video editing too. She’s an influential figure to the people in her generation. Recently, her work has expanded greatly, such as appearing in music videos. Her activity continues to grow and looks to be very promising indeed.

  • Tokyo Stroll: Walking Through Akasaka Palace, a European-Style Splendor

    29.May.2019 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Akasaka Palace―a building that has welcomed emperors, presidents and prime ministers across the world into its architectural wonders. While it is mainly used for official purposes, did you know that it also offers a public viewing, one that doesn’t hinder on business affairs?

     

    The palace is considered a national treasure of Japan. I paid a visit to this gorgeous edifice that looks just like a European-style palace. Photography is strictly forbidden when visiting, but I was able to receive special permission to cover the inner secrets of this exclusive wonder.

    Akasaka Palace is open throughout the year. There is a daytime reception that lets you enter without having to book a spot in advance (though you’ll have to book if you want to visit the Japanese Style Annex). Visitation is restricted when international state officials are present, so when planning your trip be sure to check the palace’s schedule on the official website. Visitation through the daytime reception begins at the West Gate.

    Originally built in 1909 as the Imperial Palace for the Crown Prince, the building is the only example of neo-Baroque architecture in Japan. It was built by Japanese imperial court architect Katayama Tōkuma. When planning the design for the building, he referenced various palaces across Europe which is why people liken it to Palace of Versailles in France.

     

    Hagoromo no Ma – A reception hall for visitation welcomings

    The first room you come to on the public viewing is “Hagoromo no Ma.” It was originally called a ball room which is why it houses orchestra boxes. Aperitifs dance around the room for invitees who may be there for send-offs, dinner parties or even musical performances.

    Overhead is a gorgeous chandelier which is made up of almost 7,000 separate parts, most of which is crystal. It is the biggest chandelier in the entire palace. The inner part of the mezzanine floor, which looks like a balcony, is used as an orchestra box when the room is used for orchestral concerts.

    The intricate design of the chandelier includes masks inspired by a ball while the walls too are littered with relevant motifs such as instruments. The whole room is decorated in all things musical.

     

    Asahi no Ma – The most high-class room of the palace

    The next room you step into is “Asahi no Ma” which is used for courtesy calls of officials and important people as well as summit meetings. It is the most high-class room in all of Akasaka Palace and is where the state guests say their goodbyes to the Emperor and Empress. The room began reconstruction two years ago and reopened in April this year.

    The room gets its name Asahi (“morning sun”) from the painting of Aurora, the Roman Goddess of dawn, that overlooks the room.

    It is said that in the Meiji Period, when the palace was built, people painted pictures of helmets to symbolize the army and boats to symbolize the navy as the country declared the political measure known as Fukoku kyōhei, which meant to “Enrich the Country, Strengthen the Armed Forces.”

     

    Shoumen Genkan/Large Hall – Welcoming guests of honour

    The “Shoumen Genkan,” or front entrance is where international guests of honour are welcomed. When visiting during public opening hours you don’t enter from this entrance but you are allowed inside. The large hall, which is located up the stairs from the hall that continues through the entrance room, has a striking and vivid deep crimson carpet. Together with the eight towering marble pillars, this hall makes for an overwhelming viewing. The room directly opposite down the stairs is Asahi no Ma.

     

    Sairan no Ma – Where treaties are signed

    The next most high-class room from Asahi no Ma is “Sairan no Ma” which is primarily used for signing ceremonies of treaties. When Asahi no Ma was undergoing renovations, this room was used for informal talks carried out by the emperor and prime minister with foreign rulers.

    The entire room takes on the Empire style which was popular during the rule of Napoleon I. Scattered throughout the room are gold leaf designs of armour, helmets, swords and so on.

     

    Kacho no Ma – Dinner parties with guests of honour

    Kacho no Ma is used for dinner banquets with important official from countries around the world. The room has a more relaxed feeling from the others due to its interior wooden design. It’s also often used for press conferences so those who watch Japanese news may recognise it.

    The room, with its mellow deep wooden design, houses 30 oval cloisonné medallions, depicting four seasons’ flowers and birds. The ceiling art, too, depicts images of birds and wildlife killed by hunting.

    It also has the heaviest chandelier in the palace inside which is a globular speaker.

     

    Yushintei – Japanese-style hospitality in the Japanese Style Annex

    The Yushintei is located in the Japanese Style Annex on the west side of Akasaka Palace. It was built in 1974. Akasaka Palace carries out events and receptions in a western style but the Yushintei welcomes international guests of honour with Japanese-style hospitality. Those who wish to enter must book in advance. The booking comes with a tour.

    As you step through the entrance and into the inner garden through the passage, you will see moso bamboo. This area has a garden with shirakawa gravel and kibune stone from Kyoto.

    In the main Japanese-style room where guests are served Japanese food one can observe the pond from the window. You might recognise it as the place where Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump fed the fish.

    The tea room comes with chairs for foreign visitors who are unable to sit in the traditional Japanese seiza position. Tea is prepared on the upper step which is inspired by Noh theatre.

     

    Afternoon tea in the extraordinary front garden

    20 afternoon tea sets are prepared each day to be enjoyed in the front garden of Akasaka Palace. These cannot be reserved in advance so be sure to arrive early if you’d like to order one. As you enjoy your afternoon tea while gazing around you are filled with a gorgeous feeling you can’t experience anywhere else.

    The general public viewing offers a chance to see numerous parts of the palace. We asked Rinko Murata, who’s pictured in the photos on the viewing, for her thoughts.

     

    “With the first step you take in a gorgeous space unfolds before you. Its grand design made me feel as if I had been summoned to the palace. It was like visiting a foreign country. When you look closely there are lots of decorations that symbolize Japan. It was a fresh experience where you can feel both the Japanese spirit and culture of another country. I feel moved that Japan has such a place as beautiful as this. You all need to visit too.”

     

    There is no requirement to book this viewing in advance, but during busy times (20+ people) those who do book online prior to visiting will be prioritized. Foreign visitors won’t miss out on anything either as they can purchase a voice guide machine for ¥200. These guides come in Japanese, English, Chinese, French and Spanish. A visit to the Japanese Style Annex Yushintei however requires booking prior to your visit. When doing so you can choose between either a Japanese or English-speaking guide. In the case of a sudden official reception, all scheduled public viewings for that day are cancelled, so be sure to check the calendar on the official website before heading there.

     

    Model:Rinko Murata

    Writer:Sayoko Ishi

    Photographer:Kayo Sekiguchi

    Translation: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

    TALENT PROFILE

    Rinko Murata

    Rinko Murata works in fashion and is active on radio and TV. Sales of her first style book were so successful that it required extra printing during its first week. She also has a rapidly growing following on her social media. As well as modelling at big fashion events, she has her own column online at “She magazine,” and receives much attention for her work in the areas of culture and lifestyle.

  • Tokyo Stroll: The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone #10 – ‘Donguriya’ in Nishi-Ogikubo

    10.May.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    In this edition of The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone, I visited Donguriya.

     

    To get there I plodded along from the North Exit of JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station, and after about 3-minutes I saw it!

     

    Various shops lined the street, but nature had almost reclaimed this single building which was wrapped in foliage. There’s no doubt that the people who pass by this way stop to take a look. Its inviting appearance elicits a peek as you’re left wondering what kind of place it is. I feel like a wonderful story is about to unfold!

    A sign sits at the front of the cafe with its mascot character waiting to greet you.


    He’s cute in a way that I can’t describe♬

    Time to head inside.

     

    Most of the interior is made of wood, a perfect accompaniment to the cafe’s name Donguriya (“Acorn Hut”).


    All of the signs as well as the menu on the wall are handwritten by the owner himself. It’s heartwarming just to look at♬

     

    Sipping coffee while enjoying the jazz music coming from the record player is nothing short of a luxury!

    I ordered pizza toast (drink + pizza toast set is ¥800), a Donguri cookie and coffee (drink + Donguri cookie set is ¥650).

    The toast is sliced thickly; the crusts are crunchy and the middle is soft. It was really tasty and had an old-fashioned taste to it.
    Donguri’s cookies are made by someone who has been a fan of the cafe  since long ago. They have a simple sweetness and go perfectly with the coffee!

     

    Since the cookies are made by a regular who has always loved Donguri they are the perfect cookies for Donguriya! If you pay a visit then you should definitely order one.

    The blend coffee is full-bodied and has a rich aroma. There is a slightly bitter aftertaste too. The coffee beans are also roasted in-house! It was really tasty and easy to drink even for someone like me who doesn’t know a lot about coffee.

     

    The owner and his older brother went to numerous cafes with their friends to try various different coffees before coming up with their own blend. It’s the real deal.

     

    It really felt as if I had been sucked into the world of a story with the warm light filtering through the windows and illuminating the tableware and furniture.

    Finally, a photo with the owner himself!

     

    He told me wonderful stories about the coffee and food at Donguriya which made me fall in love with the cafe even more.

     

    I want to bring my friends here next time♬

     

    Writer: Ema Tanioku
    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto
    Design: Yuko Abe (ASOBISYSTEM)

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

    TALENT PROFILE

    Ema Tanioku

    “Emaeri” is the nickname for models Ema and Eri Tanioku, who are Aomoji fashion model twins. Ema and Eri Tanioku specialise in twin fashion coordination. Over the years their fanbase has increased due to their cute looks. Ema Tanioku spreads Harajuku culture within Japan as well as overseas and works as a Harajuku Tourism Ambassador. Starting off as a model, Ema has broadened her talent range from fashion magazines to TV, and from playing the lead role in dramas to movies.

  • Tokyo Stroll: The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone #9 – ‘Cafe Ace’ in Kanda

    27.February.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    In this edition of The Café That You Want to Visit to See Someone, I visited Cafe Ace in Kanda.

     

    Being a cafe specialising in coffee it’s no surprise they have 40 different varieties of coffee! They even have 15 kinds of tea. Being able to pick out your favourite coffee before the morning rush every morning is really wonderful.

    Cafe Ace is one of the places I’ve wanted to cover for a long time in this series. I was excited to get inside!

     

    Its striped roof gives it quite a retro atmosphere. The warm colour scheme of the decor inside is that from old times – it’s very relaxed. It hasn’t changed since it opened way back when. It has continued to maintain its ways in spite of times changing. I think that’s wonderful.

     

    The cafe carries all kinds of magazines that have been published over the years. They range from 3 to 40 years old. The owner showed me his collection as we spoke about the cafe and conveyed his sentiment for Ace. I feel I have learnt much about its history!

    The menu plaques attached to the wall are all handwritten by the owner (he even wrote on the camel artwork above!)

     

    Simply amazing. His handwritten work spreads across the entire wall of Ace.

    I have come here on my before but I had no idea he had written all of this out so in learning more about it I have come to love Cafe Ace even more.


    His love and warmth can be felt throughout the whole room.

    And this―this is Cafe Ace’s famous seaweed toast! It’s made with seaweed, butter and soy sauce.


    The ingredients are simple but the flavour of the seaweed complements the butter perfectly. It’s super delicious, I want to eat it everyday! And it only costs ¥170.

     

    In the morning you can have it with blend coffee for ¥500 (+¥20 for iced coffee). You even get free refills on the blend coffee up until noon!

    American doughnuts, too. You can enjoy these at the small price of ¥230. They are sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and serve with a knob of butter in the ring. The heat of the doughnuts helps the butter to melt so you can lather it all over.

    Finally, a photo of the owner himself. Even in the photo I feel like his smile gives his customers strength. Seeing his lively energy gave me energy too.

     

    He holds his valuable feelings close, doing what he loves in the place he loves. I want to keep on seeing his radiating smile.

  • Tokyo Stroll: An izakaya date with Yutaro at Sai in Shibuya

    22.February.2019 | FEATURES / FOOD / SPOT

    Shibuya―Tokyo’s central hub for youth culture and fashion trends. This commercial and business centre is one that never sleeps: it is always bustling with people enjoying themselves whether that be shopping with friends, going on dates with their special someone, and pretty much anything you can think of a young person doing in one of the most popular parts of a city like Tokyo.

     

    This is where Yutaro-kun is taking me on our next long-awaited next date. It’s little more of a grown-up date than usual this time as we’re going to an izakaya. Yutaro-kun is crazy about umeshu, or “plum wine,” so he’s taking me to a place that stocks a wide variety of tasty drinks. This is our first time drinking together. My heart is pounding.

    Our destination is Sai, an izakaya with private booths and charcoal fires for cooking yakitori. It’s a 5-minute walk from Shibuya Station’s Hachiko Exit. It’s on the third floor of the building directly in front of the Udagawa Kōban police station. The bar has around 100 varieties of umeshu as well as food and meals made using them. The wall is lined with wine bottles as far as the eye can see. I’m already getting excited.

    The menu lists where each wine is produced by prefecture along with descriptions of each drink. I’m interested in trying the umeshu from the region I was born in, but there’s lots of other delicious sound ones too so I’m spoiled for choice.

    “What shall we do? Want to compare different drinks?”

    Yutaro-kun is quick to jump on board the idea. He’s so manly!

    Umeshu Taste-Comparing Set (3 Drinks): ¥1,000

    This taste-comparing set comes with three types of umeshu. It’s an ‘introductory-level’ set that rings true as all three varieties are very easy to drink and each of their flavours are completely different. The Akatan Umeshu produced in Nara Prefecture is made with unripened plums farmed from Nara. It has a refreshing taste and the flavour of the plums is very rich. The Kishu no Yuzu Umeshu from Wakayama is made with plums from Wakayama Prefecture and the fresh juice of yuzu fruits from Tokushima Prefecture. It’s sweet and sour with a refreshing flavour complemented by the citrus fruits. The Hotei Fuku Ume Nigori Umeshu from Osaka is made from highly valuable plum wine that has been aged over a long period of time. It’s mixed with plum jam and pieces of fresh plum to give it a sweet and thick texture.

    As well as this introductory-level set there’s the mid-level set that focuses on shochu, an upper-level set with a wide variety of drinks, and an extra set that features fruit sake.

    “Mm, this one’s delicious! It has a real citrus-y feel. Ah, but the Hotei Fuku is good too.”

    Yutaro-kun looks like he’s really enjoying drinking and comparing the different varieties of umeshu.

    My heart beats fast seeing his adult side drinking sake. Huh, am I drunk already?

     

    Zeppin Caesar Salad: ¥780

    The Caesar salad comes with a specially-made egg salad dressing made from soft-boiled eggs. It’s fun mixing the dressing. After mixing it enough we pour it over and tuck in!

    “Do you eat tomatoes?”

    I’m happy how considerate he is in portioning out the salad.

    Seafood Carpaccio: ¥720

    We both enjoy a carpaccio together made with fresh fish bought on the day and a jelly made with Kishu Akai Umeshu. Today’s fish ingredient was fatty salmon!

    The amazing flavour of the salmon comes through the centre of the refreshing umeshu jelly.

    Pork Spare Ribs: ¥820

    Kishu Umeshu is this izakaya’s No. 1 recommendation. These spare ribs are cooked slowly in it, giving them a rich and intense flavour as well as a subtle sweetness.

    They’re too delicious I could eat as many as they’d give me!

    “So tender! So delicious! This is true happiness!”

     

    Yutaro-kun never changes, he’s always so energetic when eating something tasty.

    “Thank you for the meal.”

     

    The umeshu and umeshu food was amazing, but what makes me happy more than anything is that I got to drink with Yutaro-kun. I wonder where our next date will take us?

  • 5 Must-Visit Shrines Close to Central Tokyo

    31.December.2018 | FEATURES / SPOT

    Japan is home to a lot of shrines. We have picked out 5 shrines you have to visit when travelling to Tokyo. All of them are close to the city centre, and not only are they easy to get to, each of them is also very famous.

     

    Shinjuku: Hanazono Shrine, an oasis in central Tokyo

    Hanazono Shrine is associated with food and agriculture, success, fortune, and family and company prosperity amongst other things. The closest station to it is Shinjuku-Sanchome Station where it is within mere seconds’ walking distance from the station’s E2 exit. An alternative route is from Shinjuku Station from which is just a 7-minute walk. The shrine is smack in the middle of Shinjuku and near the Shinjuku City Office and Shinjuku Golden Gai.

     

    Full Details: https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/134888

     

    ■Information

    Hanazono Shrine

    Address: 5-17-3 Shinjuku, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo

    Shrine Office Times: 8:00-20:00

    Praying Times: 9:30-16:30

    TEL: 03-3209-5265

    Access: Seconds from E2 Exit of Shinjuku-Sanchome Station via Tokyo Metro Line / 7-minutes on foot from East Exit of Shinjuku Station via JR, Odakyu and Keio Lines

    Website: http://www.hanazono-jinja.or.jp

     

    Harajuku: Onsen Shrine, home to the Shinto god of Harajuku and tied to beauty and marriage prosperity

    Onden Shrine is located just a 10-minute walk from both Shibuya Station and Harajuku Station via the JR Yamanote Line or 7-minutes from Meiji-Jingumae Station via the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line. It has been enshrined in Harajuku for more than 400 years where it has watched over the area.

     

    Onden Shrine is a site for blessings in things like marriage and beauty. It offers a lot of keywords particularly favoured by girls, so it’s definitely one to visit.

     

    Full Details: https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/96403

     

    ■Information

    Onden Shrine

    Address: 5-26-6 Jingumae, Shibuya, Tokyo

    TEL: 03-3407-7036

    Access: 10-minutes on foot from “Shibuya Station” or “Harajuku Station” via the JR Yamanote Line / 7-minutes on foot from “Meiji-Jingumae Station” via the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line

    URL:http://www.ohmiya-hachimangu.or.jp/

     

    Azabu-Jūban: Azabu Hikawa Shrine, the Sailor Moon holy ground

    Azabu Hikawa Shrine which is located in the district of Azabu-Juban known for being referenced many times in the Sailor Moon series. The closest station is Azabu-Juban Station. Naoko Takeuchi, the author of Sailor Moon, actually lived in Azabu-Juban when the series was being serialised in Nakayoshi from 1991 to 1997. The shrine was used as a model for Hikawa Shrine where Rei, or Sailor Mars, worked as a shrine maiden.

     

    The shrine is seen as lucky for many reasons. People pray there for increased luck, business prosperity, warding off evil, better fortune, success in life, wealth, safe childbirth, protection against misfortune, academic achievement, exam success, family safety, marriage, national security, and more.

     

    Full Details: https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/118472

     

    ■Information

    Azabu Hikawa Shrine

    Address: 1-4-23 Motoazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
    Time: Shop 9:00am-5:00pm / Shrine 9:00am-4:30pm

    TEL: 03-3446-8796

    Access: 8-minutes on foot from Azabu-Juban Station via the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line or Toei Oedo Line

    Website: http://www.azabuhikawa.or.jp

     

    Kamiyachō: Atago Shrine, climb the stone steps for success in life

    You can reach Atago Shrine in 5 minutes by foot from Kamiyacho Station via the Hibiya Line or 8 minutes by foot from either Toranomon Station via the Ginza Line or Onarimon Station via the Toei Mita Line.

     

    The fire god Homusubi no Mikoto is the main deity enshrined at Atago Shrine who not only offers protection against fire and fire-related disasters, but brings good fortune to businesses and marriages too.

     

    Full Details: https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/80038

     

    ■Information

    Atago Shrine

    Address: 1-5-3 Atago, Minato, Tokyo

    TEL: 03-3431-0327

    Access: 5 minutes by foot from Kamiyacho Station via the Hibiya Line / 8 minutes by foot from either  Toranomon Station via the Ginza Line or Onarimon Station via the Toei Mita Line / 20 minutes by foot from JR Shimbashi Station

    Homepage: http://www.atago-jinja.com

     

    Asakusa: Imado Shrine, the birthplace of the ‘maneki-neko’ waving cat

    The closest station to Imado Shrine is Asakusa Station. It’s about a 15 minute walk from there, but you can reach it quicker on the Megurin Bus for just ¥100. The shrine is popular power spot for successful marriage. The god of wealth and longevity and one of Asakusa’s Seven Lucky Gods, Fukurokuju, is also enshrined here. The shrine is also recognised as one of Tokyo’s 8 Shitamachi shrines that people make a pilgrimage to.

     

    Full Details: https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/111527

     

    ■Information

    Imado Shrine

    Address: 1-5-22 Imado, Taito, Tokyo

    Opening Hours: 9am-5pm

    TEL: 03-3872-2703
    Access: 15-minutes on foot from Asakusa Station / 5-minutes on foot from Asakusa 7-Chome bus stop (浅草七丁目) via Toei Bus / 1-minute on foot from ‘Riverside Sports Center’ bus stop (リバーサイドスポーツセンター前) via Kita Megurin Bus in Taito

    Website: http://imadojinja1063.crayonsite.net

     

    Did you enjoy our list? Remember, all of them are super easy to access from central Tokyo and from tourist hot spots, so be sure to make your own pilgrimage around each of them while in Tokyo.

  • Tokyo Stroll: Indulge at Harajuku’s Conveyor Belt Dessert Cafe ‘MAISON ABLE Cafe Ron Ron’

    29.November.2018 | FEATURES / FOOD

    MAISON ABLE Cafe Ron Ron is a new hot spot in Harajuku that has been popping up all over Japanese social media. It’s so popular that it’s common to see lines of people waiting outside to get in, and that’s due to the fact that this is the world’s first-ever all-you-can-eat conveyor belt dessert cafe!

     

    MMN decided to visit the cafe to see what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately, it was raining on the day, but that didn’t stop the smiles on girls’ faces waiting outside for it to open which gleamed like a clear summer’s day.

     

    We visited the cafe with Japanese model Rinko Murata who has a weakness for sweet things and whose anticipation for this place was growing.

    Upon entering the cafe you must first buy a ticket from the ticket machine. It costs ¥1,800 (tax included) for all-you-can-eat desserts and a drink.

    This is the drink shelf. You can choose your favourite from a selection of colourful beverages that come in original bottles.

    Rinko-chan picked out a photogenic-looking drink too!

    If you stand against the pastel pink walls you can snap a cute photo from any angle!

     

    Rinko-chan was quick in wanting to snap one. There are messages written over the walls too. It makes you want to take your dessert in hand and take lots of pictures.

    The dessert lane stretches a sweet 38 meters. There are over 25 delights to choose from which appetisingly pass by one by one. They arrive crowning pastel coloured plates looking like precious gems and jewels. There’s even light savoury food in addition to the sweet stuff.

     

    You’re allowed 40 minutes. Heaven begins as you sit down: pick, take a photo, tuck in and repeat.

    Is this one an ice cream? It actually isn’t – underneath the cone hides potato salad! This is one of the non-dessert light foods and is perfect for cleansing your palate. There’s a meat ball burger, nikuman meat bun, popcorn and others too. (And keep in mind that items change depending on the season!)

    All the sweets are bite-sized meaning you can enjoy lots of different kinds one after the other.

    “Eating something this cute feels such a waste!” commented Rinko-chan.

     

    Piling up the plates after you’ve finished is kinda fun too!

    The shortcake dessert with the black cat wafer is the most popular. Only 10 of them come by in an hour. Rinko-chan was lucky enough to get her hands on one.

    The cat has an iconic presence in the cafe. In fact, the “Ron Ron” in the cafe’s name comes from French and refers to the purring sound a cat makes when it’s happy.

    There’s a super cute girly powder room up on the second floor.

    They have hair straighteners, makeup and other bits and bobs that customers are free to use. Use of the powder room isn’t included within the time restriction of the all-you-can-eat service, so once you’ve filled your belly with treats you can hit it up, touch up your makeup and head out shopping.

    If you’re in Harajuku why not enjoy lots of desserts and a girly time over at MAISON ABLE Cafe Ron Ron?

     

    MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON Social Media Campaign

    Running: November 29, 2018 – December 4, 2018

    We are giving away chekki photographs of Rinko Murata randomly to 2 lucky people who follow us on either our Instagram, Twitter or Weibo pages and share this article (or hit ‘Like’ on Instagram). Anyone from around the world can participate in this campaign, so get involved!

     

    Writer: Ai Watanabe

    Photographer: Haruka Yamamoto

    Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga

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