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Culture, Nature,

A shrine that is a sanctuary for Japanese idol fans?! Nogizaka’s “Nogi Jinja Shrine”

Surrounded by quiet and lush greenery, Nogi Shrine is located right in between the energetic areas Roppongi and Akasaka. But why is it that so many fans of popular Japanese idol groups frequent this shrine?

The history of Nogi Jinja Shrine

During the Edo period (1603-1868), the Roppongi and Akasaka areas were home to feudal lords and their large mansions. Later in the Meiji era (1868-1912), the quarters became a residential area for the nobles and leaders. With several military facilities built around the same time. Now, they are gone, and instead, the open space was used to build museums, hotels, and shopping facilities. This is the area where you can enjoy exciting events such as “Roppongi Art Night“. Nogi Jinja Shrine is hidden in a quiet corner of this area.

Nogi Jinja Shrine was built to enshrine and honor general Maresuke Nogi and his wife Shizuko. Maresuke Nogi is a tragic historical figure who lived his life following the philosophy of “Bushido” (the way of the samurai). Born in 1849, Noriyuki Nogi later became a soldier and educator. He served in the Russo-Japanese War. After winning the battle, he showed mercy to Russian soldiers. A noble act, which was recognized not only by Russia but also by many countries. However, he felt responsible for the many young men who had died in the war. That is why he and his wife eventually choose to commit ritual suicide (seppuku) following the death of Emperor Meiji. Maybe, he was the real “last samurai”.

Next to the shrine, you can see Nogi’s house which was moved to this place.

Nogi Jinja Shrine today

Nogi Shrine

Lush greenery surrounds the precincts of the shrine. It’s a small oasis in the middle of the city. The architecture of the shrine has a very clean and sophisticated appearance and pleases the eye with its universal beauty with a touch of modern Japanese architecture.

When I visited the shrine, I found this ‘chinowa’ ring made of kaya grass. It is said that when you pass the ring in a certain manner going in circles, bad influences go away and you will be blessed with good relationships! (Usually, chinowa can be seen at New Year’s. This chinowa was put up until June 30, 2020.)

As is often the case with Japanese shrines and temples, you will find other shrines in the precincts of the main shrine. Nogi Jinja Shrine is no exception. For example, on the right side of the main shrine is an “academic” shrine where you can wish for success in your studies. And on the left is an Inari Shrine (for household wellbeing and business prosperity) lined with many small and charming torii gates.

The shrine for academic luck

Cute torii gates

The Nogizaka effect

When Japanese people think of the Nogi Jinja Shrine they immediately think of the Japanese idol group Nogizaka46. The company managing their music is located near Nogi Jinja Shrine. The Nogi slope (“saka” or “zaka” in Japanese) aka Nogizaka became the name of the group. Also, the members of Nogizaka46 celebrate their coming-of-age ceremonies at Nogi Jinja Shrine. No wonder fans travel from far away to visit the shrine to be close to their idols. If you look closely at the votive panel (‘ema’) corner of the shrine, you will see many cheering messages for Nogizaka46 and prayers for the success of their concert tours. How nice!

Nogi Jinja Shrine, which has an interesting historical background, has continued to change with the times and is now popular (also) among idol fans. Nogi Jinja Shrine has stepped up its social media game and actively shares beautiful photos and videos of the shrine. If you have the chance, why don’t you visit this interesting shrine for yourself?


Nogi Jinja Shrine (Nogi Jinja)

https://www.nogijinja.or.jp/english/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nogijinja/
8-11-27 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/vbLVfNxcnKQcsVkeA
Nearest stations: Nogizaka Station, Roppongi Station, Aoyama-itchome Station

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writer

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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