Culture, Nature,

The charm of Akasaka Hikawa Shrine. A shrine with buildings remaining from the Edo period.

With a history of over 1000 years and buildings that haven’t changed since the Edo period (1603-1868), Akasaka Hikawa Shrine has been designated as an important cultural property. It is a shrine that has been loved by the shoguns of the Edo Shogunate and is still loved by the people of today.

In 951, Akasaka Hikawa Shrine started in its former located, in Akasaka’s Hitotsugi-cho. This is where the current Akasaka shopping street is located. There is a story about the shrine, where in the past there was a great drought in the Kanto region. The shrine performed prayers for rain and it finally started raining. Since then, festivities are held to honor and remember that time.

There is a 400 years old large ginkgo tree in the precincts.

Hochozuka” in a corner of a shrine. For hundreds of years, chefs from restaurants in the Akasaka area brought their broken knives to the shrine. Here, they had a ceremony, like a funeral, for their important knives since many people believe that also knives have a spirit/soul.

Inside the shrine: another small shrine. The deity got a bottle of water to drink.

At the beginning of the Edo period, the Edo Shogunate (which was a “big fan” of the shrine) decided to move the shrine to a new location. The famous Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune – the eighth Tokugawa shogun – built the present shrine on the current site in 1729. The shrine moved to the site in 1730.

Before the shrine was built, the site was home to the house of the parents of Asano Takumi’s wife. He is one of the main characters from the famous Edo period revenge drama “Chushingura“, which are true events that were turned into countless dramas, movies, and kabuki plays.

Akasaka Hikawa Shrine is believed to remove bad luck, create good relations, protect the family, and help your business. On New Year’s many people come to worship and wish for a happy year.

Akasaka Hikawa Shrine today

The main hall of the shrine

The shrine buildings built during the Edo period miraculously remained unharmed during all the time that has passed. When you walk around, you might get the chance to see some of the festival mikoshi (portable shrines) and floats displayed. The mikoshi and floats are the vehicles for spirits. Locals help to carry them around the town every year in fall during the Akasaka Hikawa Festival. As you can see, Akasaka Hikawa Shrine has a lot to offer in terms of Japanese tradition. Walking around the shrine’s precincts feels like traveling through the history and culture of Japan.

A festival mikoshi

The doll on the float is a legendary figure.

The shrine is actively trying to preserve classic Japanese culture by offering Japanese musical instruments classes for parents and children, as well as tea ceremony and ikebana classes. History fans, festival lovers, people who are interested in Japanese culture, worshippers who hope for marriage luck, and many others visit Akasaka Hikawa Shrine. Once you step into the precincts, you will surely understand why this shrine has been loved for over 1000 years.

A tsuijibei wall (a mud wall with a roof). For a shrine, it’s very rare to have this type of architecture.

*For more information about events, please see the Akasaka Hikawa Shrine official website.

Akasaka Hikawa Shrine

6-10-12 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/9xU42fb1afu11LcZ9
Nearest station: Akasaka Station, Roppongi Station, Roppongi-itchome Station, Tameike-Sanno-Station

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I was born and raised in Kiel/Germany. When I was 16 I came to Japan for the first time. I fell in love with this beautiful country, so I returned after my university graduation. Since then, I have been living in Tokyo - and I don't plan to change anything about that ;-) My hobbies are taking a stroll around the city, taking photos and drinking coffee.

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