Translated by Sandy Lau
Ana Inari Shrine, Shinagawa: Be Guided By Foxes To A Mystical Fountain
Written by Mitsuhisa Kanoo
Ana Inari Shrine in Tokyo, lined with red torii gates, is very similar to Fushimi Inari Shrine. If you pay a visit to the Ichiryu Manbai Fountain in the shrine, you can also a blessing of rising economic fortune!
Though the Senbon Torii of Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto is the most famous spot that comes to mind when talking about red torii gates, Shinagawa Shrine near Tokyo's city center is also lined with red torii gates that attracts the attention of visitors.
Beyond those torii gates is Ana Inari Shrine. Ichiryu Manbai Fountain (lit. "even the greatest profit arises from the smallest of beginnings") is located inside the shrine and is where visitors are able to obtain blessings that will raise their economic fortune and prosperity in business. Let’s go to the mysterious fountain that lies dormant past the torii gates while being watched over by divine fox messengers.
The shrine is a five minute walk from the Keikyu Main Line at Shinbamba Station. It will take 20 minutes to arrive at the station by train from Tokyo Station and about 30 minutes from Narita Airport.
What Is Shinagawa Shrine?
Shinagawa Shrine has a history that dates back to 1187. Upon passing under the Soryu Torii Gates, where engravings of two dragons have been added, and climbing up the stone steps, what will come into view is the splendid main building. Let’s pay a visit here first.
Shinagawa Shrine has many visitors and even Japan’s famous shogun (military general) Ieyasu Tokugawa came here to pray for victory whenever he went to battle several hundred years ago. Ieyasu, after safely gaining his victory, dedicated a mask and divine palanquin to Ana Inari Shrine.
Those treasures are displayed in the sanctuary inside the shrine. Though it is normally closed off to the public, this area is open during events such as on February 3rd and the weekend closest to June 7th. Why not try visiting during these dates?
To the right of the main building is Ana Inari Shrine. Let’s go there next.
Ana Inari Shrine at Shinagawa Shrine
On the grounds of the verdant Shinagawa Shrine these red torii gates that especially stand out. They are lined up as if they were the entrance into another world and will pull you in before you even realize it. Let’s continue forward through the torii gates.
A small shrine will finally appear after passing through numerous red torii gates. Ana Inari Shrine is separated into an upper and lower shrine. Here at the upper shrine is where the spirit of heaven’s blessing is enshrined.
The figure of a divine fox messenger is found in front of the upper shrine (to the left in the photo). However, it’s facing downwards for some reason. As you continue once more through the red torii gates and down the steps, a mysterious atmosphere will fill the air. As we’re urged forward by the fox, let’s go down the steps and continue forward to the lower shrine of Ana Inari Shrine.
Your Economic Fortune Will Improve at Ichiryu Manbai Fountain!?
After going down the stairs, the lower shrine of Ana Inari Shrine will be before you. Wooden tags written with the names of the shrine’s donors are lined up in a row at the upper part of the entrance. From these panels, it's apparent that this shrine has many devotees.
Once you take a step inside, the sounds of your surroundings will be blocked off and it will become very quiet. To the left will be a shrine where several white foxes have been offered. In contrast to the upper shrine, the spirit of earth’s blessing is enshrined here. There is no end to the number of worshipers that offer their prayers of gratitude to the god of agriculture here.
Although the lower shrine is filled with silence, you can faintly hear the sound of flowing water. The source of this sound is the Ichiryu Manbai Fountain. When you purify your seals and coins in this water, you will be blessed with a rise in prosperity in business and economic fortune. It is considered beneficial to use a portion of the purified money at the shops located near the shrine. It is also beneficial to bring some of the water home to pour onto the four corners of your entryway. Let’s prepare an empty plastic bottle to visit the shrine.
Ana Inari Shrine is where one offers prayers to the heavens, the earth, and water. It is a very interesting spot where you will be led to a mysterious world by red torii gates and fox messengers. Though it is merely a short distance from the main building of Shinagawa Shrine, the sudden change in atmosphere and mysterious nature of this shrine will have you feeling as though you've traveled to a parallel world.
By all means, please experience this mystical place for yourself.
Ana Inari Shrine
Address: Tokyo, Shinagawa, Kita-Shinagawa 3-7-15
Nearest Station: Shinbamba Station, Keikyu Main Line
Access: 5 minute walk from Shinbamba Station