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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?
Writer: Ryoichi Komaba
Photograph: Haruka Yamamoto
Translator: Joshua Kitosi-Isanga
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