The second shrine I tried for the Torinoichi on the 22nd of November was the Miyamasu Mitake Shrine in Shibuya. It is a tiny little shrine hidden well off and well above the main street near Miyamasusaka between Shibuya and Omotesando. Compared to the big torinoichi markets in Otorisama in Asakusa or the Hanazono shrine in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho district it is much smaller and not nearly as well known and the line to worship at the main shrine building was much shorter. Having met with a bit of success, finally, I decided to move on to the main “party” shrine of the Torinochi markets, in Shinjuku. Use the tags to find other posts explaining the Torinochi traditions properly!
This year’s second and last Torinoichi fell on a Saturday, and I figured the crowds at the original Torinoichi market temple would be immense but I was obviously not taking this seriously enough. When I arrived there were lines stretching towards the main entrance from both directions and there were signs that lots of people had spent a long night waiting in line. I have visited many Torinoichi markets in Tokyo but this was my first visit here. Next year I will have to be earlier! There was no way I was going to get in within any reasonable amount of time so instead I decided to head to the Torinoichi shrine in Shibuya, but that will be the subject of another post later this week! You can read more about this shrine and the tradition of the Torinoichi here.
During the Edo period after the end of the Civil Wars one of the ways that peace was kept was to have the ruling provincial lords to live close together in the capital where the Shogun could keep an eye on them. The Daimyo (provincial level lords) live in grand walled estates called Yashiki, the grandest of which was like a miniature city within the city while the smallest was merely a large house with a garden, a wall and sometimes a ceremonial moat to separate it from the city. Many of the Yashiki also had dedicated shrines where the people who lived there could pray. After the Edo period ended the old Yashiki system was abolished and most of the grand Tokyo estates were broken up into smaller pieces or turned into parks or gardens. The shrines sometimes remained though, and to this day it is possible to find several of these scattered around central Tokyo to show where a grand estate house once stood. I have heard there are 16 of them but I am not sure.
I found one of these Edo Yashiki shrines in Tokyo’s Asakusa district, the Taro Inari Jinja (Shrine). This used to be the estate shrine of the Tachibana House of the Yanagawa clan, who ruled souther Fukuoka province on the Island of Kyushu. The estate and the shrine was established here around 1660. This is the only remains of the old estate, even though some of the lots are still in the hands of the original noble family members who seem to be in the hotel business (not sure on this one).
The thing that made me notice this shrine however was the fact that the Torii, the red gate in front of all shrines and holy places, has actually been incorporated into the neighboring building when it was erected, a torii shaped hole has been made in the building wall itself! No matter how crowded Tokyo gets, you can’t really ask the Gods to move!