At the Kakitagawa Yuusui park in Shizuoka Prefecture’s Mishima City you can visit the tiny Kifune Shrine (貴船神社). It is a shrine dedicated to the God Takaoka-no-kami, who is the Inoame and Tomeame God, or the God who can start and stop rain at his will. The Shrine is a tributary of the much larger and more famous Kifunejinja in Kyoto far to the west. The shrine itself is located on the highest spot in the river and spring valley, on the spot of a castle which was first destroyed in the 1570s, rebuilt and finally destroyed again sometime in the 1610s. The lack of remains of any castle structures might mean that it was a wooden castle, more like a fort. The nature around the shrine is very beautiful, and there were plenty of insect, lizards, fish and birds around. I saw one semi sit quietly on the trunk of a tree. In summer the swarms of semi can be quite deafening, almost like a motorcycle constantly revving its engine!
The Zeniaribenten Shrine in Kamakura City is quite popular with tourists ever since since the 13th century when it was favored by the local nobility. Most people come to see the main shrine, the cave and holy spring, but there three more minor shrines within the precincts, the 上之水神社, and the 七福神社. When I visited last month the Ajisai was in full bloom and handsomely framed the Shishimai guardian lions at the entrance to the minor shrines. I have been here many times but this was the first time I noticed the very inconveniently placed tree, right in front of the Torii, the entrance gate to one of the minor shrines. I really wonder how it came to grow in that spot, as it is surely younger than the torii it almost blocks! Just another item on the list of things I have to investigate when I get the opportunity!
On a lovely back street well shaded with trees in the middle of Chiyoda ward is the tiny Otahime Inari Shrine (太田姫稲荷神社). Founded in Edo (Old Tokyo) in 1457, there are various interpretation to its colorful name (Princess Ota Shrine). According to one legend, the name comes from the noble Ota Doukan (太田道灌) whose daughter very nearly died in a smallpox epidemic sometime in the 15th century. Ota Doukan prayed at the Imoaraiinari shrine for her and everyone else dying in smallpox and miraculously saved her life. To honor the Gods Ota Doukan founded this shrine within the grounds of the old (the first) Edo Castle. After Edo was made the capital the shrine was moved to a new location within the New Edo Castle, in 1606, on a spot right in front of the east exit of Ochanomizu JR station today (you can still find the old tree that marks the center of the shrine). In 1872, the shrine was renamed Sonsha (I think) by order of the government but the shrine was completely destroyed in the fires following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, and rebuilt in 1931, only to be moved once again to its present spot to make room for the new railway line. This time it got its old name back though!
These days it celebrates its main festival in mid May, and is a popular shrine with local businesses and corporations, as most of its parish is now office buildings and shops.
The Shinagawa Matsuri a couple of weeks ago has some pretty interesting omikoshi, well known for the attached drums, which are beaten continuously during the parade. The movement style of omikoshi is also quite peculiar and has a very interesting rhythm and style. You must see it to appreciate though, as the photos do not do the movement justice! I took these photos at the shopping street leading up from neighborhood just below the shrine itself. Accompanying each omikoshi is not only the drummer, but also one or two flutists, which makes the festival even more festive than usual!