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Toyoiwa Inari Shrine - A Hidden Shrine in Ginza

Toyoiwa Inari Shrine - A Hidden Shrine in Ginza

Toyoiwa Inari Shrine - A Hidden Shrine in Ginza

Translated by Hilary Keyes

Written by OsawaKimie

Tokyo 2016.08.04 Bookmark

Did you know that there is an amazing power spot right in downtown Ginza? This hidden shrine, visited by many kabuki celebrities, is a place known only to those who live in Ginza.

Translated by Hilary Keyes

Written by OsawaKimie

Ginza - an elegant area, always bustling with people in search of good quality products during the day and with business people visiting high class clubs at night. Depending on the time of day, the faces of this  business district will change. But did you know that you could find an ancient shrine tucked away in an unexpected corner of Ginza?

This hidden shrine, known only to those with intimate knowledge of Ginza, is visited by numerous celebrities, particularly kabuki actors (*1).

*1 Kabuki: a traditional Japanese performing art, starring an all male-cast, loved for its dramatic stories and spectacular stage effects.

What is the True Nature of this Hidden Shrine?

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Those who live in Ginza say that this shrine "is easy to find, but most people won't even notice it"; it is adjacent to a Japanese restaurant called Yasukō (やす幸), found on Suzurandōri avenue in Ginza 7-chōme.

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There is a stone pillar standing just out front of Yasukō with the name Toyoiwa Inari Jinja (豊岩稲荷神社) carved into it. If you look closely into the interior of this alleyway, you can make out the faint traces of light seemingly floating in the darkness.

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The light seems to entice you into the dimly-lit opening and as you walk down the alleyway you suddenly see a vermilion wall on your left.

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There are two stone fox statues, a shimenawa sacred rope(*2), a small saisenbako (offerings box, *3) and other such implements of shrines here and there. This space seems almost to be in another world; the noise of the city that you were in disappears, and a cool air blows gently by this shrine.

*2 Shimenawa: a woven rope used in the Shintō tradition to signify that a certain space or item is sacred.
*3 Saisenbako: an offertory box that visitors to a temple or shrine put money in.

Trivia About the Shrine in the Wall

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No one is certain of just how long Toyoiwa Inari Shrine has been standing here. It is said that, in the 16th century the military commander Akechi Mitsuhide had this shrine built in order to pray and sanctify the land before building his home and that of his retainers here. In the past it looked more like other Inari shrines but the construction, reconstruction and advancement of the area and its tall buildings ultimately transformed the shrine to its present condition.

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Ukemochi-no-mikoto is the name of the god enshrined at Toyoiwa Inari Shrine, and is one of the deities that grants divine favor to human connections (particularly love or marriage related), and protection against fires. It is said that in the latter half of the 19th century, the kabuki actor Ichimura Uzaemon used to call upon this shrine numerous times over his life to pray for the success of his stage performances, a tradition that is carried on by many kabuki actors and other entertainers to this day.

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Next to this household shrine we found an offering of water, Japanese sake and aburaage (*4). In Japan, aburaage is popularly called "O-inari-san", and is believed to be the favorite treat of the foxes, animals that are closely connected to Inari Shrines.

*4 Aburaage: tofu that has been thinly sliced and deep fried.

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Now that we have paid our respects to the shrine, it is time to turn and head back towards the brightly lit world of the present. Relying on the minimal light as you advance along really tickles your sense of adventure and curiosity.

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The 400 year old Toyoiwa Inari Shrine. Once a household shrine, it is now a power spot watching over a concrete jungle. Compared to the elegant sanctuary of Meiji-Jingū or Asakusa Shrine, this shrine is obviously much smaller, but the overwhelming uniqueness of the location and atmosphere of Toyoiwa Inari Shrine is something that you must feel for yourself. If you would like to experience the sensation of being worlds away from the modern day, by all means please visit this small and yet incredibly impressive corner of lively Ginza.

Information

Toyoiwa Inari Shrine 豊岩稲荷神社

Address: Tokyo, Chūō, Ginza 7-8-14
Hours: 24 hours a day
Closed: Never
Nearest Station: Ginza Station (銀座駅) on the Tokyo Metro Lines
Access: 10 minute walk from exit A2 towards the Ginza 4-chome intersection.
Religion: Shintō

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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