One of Tokyo’s most important shrines, whose existence dates back to the Kamakura period, is located on a small hilltop of Nagatacho. Despite being at the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities, the surrounding greenery fills this Shinto shrine with peace and tranquility.
It has a special connection to the Tokugawa clan. When Lord Ieyasu Tokugawa made Edo Castle his residence, Hie jinja (shrine) was revered as the “protector of the Tokugawa family.”
Home to one of Tokyo’s biggest festivals
The enshrined deity of Hie shrine is called Oyamakui no Kami (the guardian and protector of the city of Tokyo). People usually come to this shrine to pray for safe childbirth, marriage and prosperity in business.
In mid-June, Hie Shrine presents the Sanno Festival, one of Tokyo’s three major festivals. During the festival, a grand 300-meter parade runs through central Tokyo. Worshippers dance and sing to the beat of taiko drums and exhibit hundreds of lanterns dedicated to the deity.
A shrine guarded by monkeys
There are three entrances to this temple. The Sanno torii gate (wooden gates found at the shrines) entry is the most convenient because it has an escalator next to the stairs to get up to the hilltop shrine.
At the entrance to the main hall, you can notice a few different features, such as instead of the komainu (a lion-like statue that usually guards the entrance to the inner shrine), monkeys (known as masaru) guarding the entrance to the main hall and they are considered to be the messenger of Oyamakui no Kami.
Many worshippers pray in front of the statue of the monkey couple so that the divine monkeys bless them and convey their prayers to the deity.
A torii tunnel in Tokyo
Apart from these, Sanno Inari jinja is one of the main attractions here. Behind the main hall, a tunnel of 90 bright vermilion torii gates leads to the street. This beautiful place is reminiscent of the “Senbon Torii” of Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine. This place is, therefore, very popular among foreign tourists and Japanese people.
This culturally rich and historically significant place is situated in the middle of the city, so it constantly sees all the city’s changes and silently preserves the glorious old chapters in the new.