November 2, 2013

Main Hall of Nezu Shrine

Main Hall of Nezu Shrine

Nezu Shrine has been long worshiped and taken good care of by the local people.

It is said that this shrine was built about 1900 years ago by Yamato Takeru, who was a Japanese legendary prince and is said to have been a son of the 12th Emperor of Japan.

He defeated many enemies in the eastern Japan with the help of a holy sword (Kusanagi-no-tsurugi), which, it is said in Kojiki, Susano-o found in the body of Yamata-no-Orochi (a dragon with eight heads and eight tails).

In this shrine Susano-o is enshrined along with other Shinto deities.


nezu touro

Torii gate of Nezu Shrine


The present seven shrine buildings were built in 1706 in the Gongen-zukuri style in the place where the 5th Tokugawa Shogun Tsunayoshi had lived.


They are well-preserved today and are all designated as Japan’s important cultural properties.









The Gongen-zukuri style is one of the architectural styles of Japanese shrines

In this style, Haiden(the worship hall) and Honden(the sanctuary) are interconnected under the same roof in the shape of H.


Famous examples of buildings  built in the Gongen-zukuri style are KitanoTenmangu Shrine in Kyoto and Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Tochigi. If you have no plan to go to these shrines, I’d recommend you visiting Nezu Shrine and see the Gongen-zukuri-style shrine buildings.


The left graphic shows Haiden, a stone room, and Honden from bottom to top.




Otome Inari Shrine

Otome Inari Shrine

There is Otome Inari Shrine in the precinct.

Inari shrines are shrines where Inari-no-Kami is enshrined. Inari-no-Kami is one of the Japanese Kami (deities), and the deity of grain.

The Chinese characters, 稲荷(Inari), mean 稲(ine), which means rice, and 荷(ni), which means a load.

This comes from a legend that Kami appeared carrying a load of rice stalks on the shoulders. Originally, Inari shrines were worshiped as guardian shrines of agriculture, but as the development of industry, they came to be worshiped as guardian shrines of business as well.




nezu otome 1



Hoping for the success in business, a lot of worshippers donate Torii (a shrine gate) to Inari shrines, and here in Otome Inari Shrine, successive layers of vermilion Torii gates are a spectacular view.


Vermilion symbolizes good harvests and is believed to have power to ward off evil.







Statue of a fox

Vermilion Torii gates and statues of foxes are symbols of Inari shrines.

You see statues of foxes with a precious stone or a key to rice granary in the mouth here and there in Inari shrines.


From the past, foxes have been regarded as divine messengers sent by Inari-no-Kami in Japan, and “Abura-age (deep-fried soybean curd or deep-fried tofu)” is offered to Inari shrines.

It is because folklore has it that Abura-age is a favorite food of foxes, but actually they are carnivorous and the folklore is groundless.





However, people offer Abura-age and there is food called “Inari-zushi,” which is vinegared rice stuffed in Abura-age cooked with soy sauce and sugar. Inari-zushi is a very popular food and often eaten as a quick snack like Onigiri (a rice ball).















Every year, from mid-April to late-April, an azalea festival is held here in this shrine, and 3,000 azaleas of about 50 kinds bloom beautifully, which attracts many visitors.




Nezu Shrine is located in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo.

It’s 5-minute walk from Nezu Station and Sendagi Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Subway Line.



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