Tokyobling's Blog

Hiroshima Toshogu Shrine

Posted in Places by tokyobling on July 8, 2014

One morning in Hiroshima I visited the famous Toshogu shrine (広島東照宮) located not too far from the north exit of Hiroshima Station. The rains was absolutely pouring down and I had a hard time keeping myself and my camera dry so please excuse the poor quality of the photos. There are plenty of Toshogu shrines all over Japan and they all enshrine the same spirit, the fist Tokugawa shogun, Ieyasu (1543-1616). The most famous being the one in Nikko north of Tokyo. The Hiroshima Toshogu was built in 1648 to commemorate the great shogun who unified Japan. One of the main ceremonies of this shrine was the festival thrown every 50 years to commemorate the shogun. However, in the late 19th century the shogun dynasty fell and the festival was cancelled. In 1989 it was revived as a trial and the next festival will be in 2015, back on schedule. If you miss this one, you will have to wait until 2065 for the next!

Toshogu is built on the hillside overlooking Hiroshima city. The main shrine is located below a series of little shrines and holy places connected by a hill trail from the back of the main shrine. It was too wet and slippery for me to explore so I only went to see the first of the small hill shrines, but next time I visit I will see them all!

The shrine is 2.1km from the center of the blast of the atomic bomb dropped over Hiroshima on August 6th 1945. The blast wave pulverized a stone torii (shrine gate) and blew most of the roofs off. The buildings that survived the blast are permanently tilted to the north to this day. Most of the main building however survived as a small detachment of the 2nd Army Signal Corps who were stationed in the shrine on that day. The soldiers fought the fires and then set up a first aid station to receive the wounded civilians who started coming in after the blast. The badly wounded were sent further on to a nearby temple while the walking wounded stayed for treatment. On the day after the blast the Hiroshima post office (which is now just to the south of Hiroshima station) relocated to this shrine. One of the people who came to this shrine for treatment was the writer Tamiki Hara 原民喜, 1905-1951) who wrote the famous novel Natsu no Hana (Summer Flowers) based on his experiences of the bombing. The shrine was finally rebuilt in 1965 but one of the losses of the was was the line of cherry blossom trees leading up to the temple.

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5 Responses

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  1. Borderlands of Health and Wellness said, on July 8, 2014 at 7:59 am

    I would love to visit for the next festival in 2015. That might be worth trying to plan for. My uncle used to live in Japan and somehow, I found a link to the omamori charms that the shrines sell. I don’t even recall the train of thought I followed that day that led me to them. I just remember that my grandparents had two or three around their home as my cousins and sister and I were growing up. I found the website for the US shrine and they carry them. I really would like one and I don’t want to order from ebay to get one from Japan. I don’t think there are many Shinto websites in English that carry them. I was tickled to see you had a picture of them. To see them makes me happy.

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    • tokyobling said, on July 9, 2014 at 5:40 am

      Thank you for the kind comment! I am happy you recognized the charms! Indeed every shrine sells them, both in Japan and the shrines in the western hemisphere (I think there are shrines in Oregon, Brazil, Hawaii, etc.) Don’t buy them mail order, get them when you visit! (^-^)

      Like

      • Borderlands of Health and Wellness said, on July 13, 2014 at 2:05 am

        A childhood friend is currently in Japan visiting her husband who is stationed there. I asked her to send me a post card and to try and bring me one back but she only has eyes for her man and I doubt she makes the time for it.

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  2. sweffling said, on July 8, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Lovely photos, but it does look slippery! What time of year is the 50 year festival happening?

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    • tokyobling said, on July 8, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Thanks! (^-^) I think it is October 10, 2015. And the next one, October 10, 2065.

      The 1989 festival.

      Like


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