Japan is home to large and small shrines that are dotted all over the country. Architectural unique to Japan, each shrine worships a different deity. Some deities are protectors of wealth, some ward off disasters and evil while others promote marital harmony. Most visitors have a couple of shrines and temples on their itinerary. In this feature, we talk about the three most popular shrines in Tokyo that are said to be power spots for overall fortune, love and marital bless, and wealth.
Meiji Jingu (明治神宮)
The first shrine on this list is without a doubt Meiji Jingu. Located in Harajuku, it is a must visit for those traveling to Tokyo. Among all the shrines in Japan, Meiji Jinju is said to have the largest number of visitors for hatsumode, the first shrine visit of the new year. On the first three days of the year (Jan 1-3), there is a long queue for hatsumode, and it can take several hours from entering the big torii (gate) to arriving at the main hall.
There are several power spots within the precincts to experience the healing powers of the energy from the earth and feel rejuvenated. Meiji Jingu is surrounded by greenery and from the moment you walk through the big torii, you are bound to feel a sense of calm. The big torii is the first energy point. With a height is about 12 meters, the diameter of each column is about 1.2 meters. It is said that the wood used is more than 1500 years old. As you walk through this path that takes you to the center of the shrine, you will forget that you are in one of the busiest cities in the world.
Along the way, you will come across a wall of sake barrels that have been gifted as an offering to the Meiji Emperor by sake breweries from all over Japan. An iconic spot, the scale of the wall which features over 200 barrels can be quite overwhelming for some.
After seeing the sake barrel wall, many visitors keep following this same path. However, we strongly recommend that you take the left on the opposite side, so that you don't miss the most important energy spot at Meiji Jinju, the Kiyomasa Well.
Kiyomasa Well is located within the Inner Garden, which has an entrance fee of 500 yen. You pass through beautiful areas of blooming irises or azaleas depending on the season and ponds adorned with lotuses.
The lotus ponds, the iris flower gardens and the ancient forest all receive water from this well. According to ancient maps, it is said that the forest within Meiji Jingu is located at a confluence of a power line (dragon pulse/vein) that comes from Mount Fuji leading straight to the Imperial Palace. The Kiyomasa Pond coincides with a dragon hole power spot which is filled with energy from the earth. Perhaps it is precisely because of being irrigated by divine water that the iris flowers here have an incomparable charm.
Tokyo Daijingu (東京大神宮)
Within a short walk from Iidabashi Station is Tokyo Daijingu, the most well-known power spot for praying for love. No matter which day you visit this shrine, you will see many visitors.
Of course, most couples come together to pray for a long-lasting, loving relationship but there are also singles who come to pray to find true love. If you want to pray for a good married life, you must visit this shrine.
The ema, votive plaques to write your wishes or prayers on, come in many designs. Most are associated with praying for love and are incredibly cute. In Japanese, “enmusubi” (縁結び) refers to the establishment of good relationships and ties with the people and things in your life. On many ema here you will see this word.
The omikuji, i.e. fortune slips, are also available in several designs. The origami kimono dolls in colorful patterns are adorable. If you pick a fortune and get a bad one, tie it to the designated area.
The amulet featuring lily-of-the-valley (suzuran), which symbolizes happiness, is exquisite and classy. A popular souvenir among girls who come to pray here.
Koami Jinja (小網神社)
Compared with the two shrines mentioned above, Koami Jinja is not well-known among foreigners, and it is much smaller than the other two shrines. However, it is treasured among citizens of Tokyo. Located close to Ningyocho Station, it structurally follows Kaguraden architecture.
The shrine, originally built in 1466, and the land around it was said to have been spared from damage after the Great Kanto Earthquake as well as the Great Tokyo Air Raid. It thus came to be associated as a shrine that wards off evil and brings good fortune.
At the entrance is Ebisu, one of the seven gods of good fortune in Japan, whose head has been rubbed by many.
The shrine also has a Zeni-arai-no-i, which is a well where you wash money. It is said that if you wash money and put it back in your wallet, you will have good luck in terms of wealth.
The omikuji at this shrine is very special. Made of real silkworm cocoons, the fortune paper is hidden within.
In addition to the unique omikuji, there are also many lucky charms for sale. You can surprisingly find a range of amulets that make for great souvenirs.
If you have the opportunity to visit Tokyo in the future and are interested in experiencing the power spot culture of Japan, consider visiting the above three shrines.