Tokyo’s hidden gem: A festival of lights and prayers
Discover the wonders of Kanagoryo Shrine, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Shibuya, Tokyo.
- Address: 〒151-0053 Tokyo, Shibuya Ward, Yoyogi 2-26-5 Baroll Yoyogi 510
- Phone Number: 03-5308-3231
- Access: A short walk from Shinjuku, Yoyogi, and Minami-Shinjuku Stations
- Festival Days: January 1st – December 31st, 2024 (Reiwa 6)
Main Events and Attractions of the Festival
Kanagoryo Shrine’s annual festival, held throughout the year in 2024, offers a variety of events and attractions for visitors to enjoy.
Prayer and Worship
At the heart of the festival is the opportunity to offer prayers and seek blessings from the enshrined deities. Visitors can participate in various rituals and ceremonies, including:
- Omamori and Ofuda Distribution: Receive sacred amulets and talismans believed to bring good luck, protection, and prosperity.
- Ema and Engishiki: Write your wishes and prayers on wooden plaques (ema) and paper strips (engishiki) and dedicate them at the shrine.
- Omikuji: Draw a fortune slip (omikuji) to receive guidance and insights into your future.
Traditional Performing Arts
Throughout the festival, visitors can witness captivating traditional Japanese performing arts:
- Kagura: Be mesmerized by the ancient Shinto ritual dance performed by shrine maidens, accompanied by traditional music and instruments.
- Koto and Shamisen Performances: Listen to the enchanting sounds of the koto (Japanese harp) and shamisen (three-stringed lute) as skilled musicians fill the air with melodious tunes.
- Noh and Kyogen: Experience the beauty and symbolism of Noh theater and Kyogen comic plays, which combine music, dance, and storytelling.
Cultural Demonstrations and Workshops
Immerse yourself in Japanese culture through hands-on demonstrations and workshops:
- Tea Ceremony: Learn the art of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, known as chanoyu, and savor the delicate flavors of matcha tea.
- Origami: Discover the intricate art of paper folding and create beautiful origami figures to take home as souvenirs.
- Calligraphy: Practice the art of Japanese calligraphy (shodo) and create your own unique characters using a brush and ink.
Food and Market Stalls
Indulge in a variety of delicious Japanese food and snacks from the many stalls set up during the festival:
- Traditional Japanese Cuisine: Sample a wide range of Japanese dishes, including sushi, tempura, takoyaki, and yakitori.
- Sweets and Treats: Satisfy your sweet cravings with traditional Japanese desserts such as mochi, dango, and taiyaki.
- Local Specialties: Discover unique and delectable foods from the Shibuya area, showcasing the region’s culinary heritage.
Blessings and Deities
Kanagoryo Shrine is dedicated to the deity Oyamakui-no-Kami, also known as Konohanasakuya-hime, the goddess of Mount Fuji, cherry blossoms, and safe childbirth. Visitors to the shrine seek blessings for various aspects of their lives, including:
- Good Luck and Fortune: Pray for overall good luck, prosperity, and success in all endeavors.
- Safe Childbirth and Fertility: Women pray for safe childbirth, easy labor, and the blessing of children.
- Healing and Recovery: Those seeking healing and recovery from illnesses or injuries visit the shrine to pray for divine assistance.
- Harmony and Relationships: Devotees pray for harmonious relationships, improved communication, and the resolution of conflicts.
- Travel and Safety: Travelers and those embarking on journeys pray for safe travels and protection during their trips.
Origin and History
The origins of Kanagoryo Shrine are shrouded in mystery, with various legends and theories surrounding its establishment. According to one legend, the shrine was founded by the legendary emperor Jimmu, the first emperor of Japan, in the 7th century BC. Another theory suggests that the shrine was established during the Heian period (794-1185) by a priest named Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism.
Throughout history, Kanagoryo Shrine has undergone several renovations and expansions. In the 17th century, the shrine was rebuilt by the Tokugawa shogunate, and in the 19th century, the shrine’s honden (main hall) was reconstructed in its current form.
Tips and Notes for Visitors
To make the most of your visit to Kanagoryo Shrine, here are some tips and notes to keep in mind:
- Dress Code: While there is no strict dress code, it is considered respectful to dress modestly and avoid wearing overly casual or revealing clothing.
- Etiquette: When entering the shrine, purify your hands and mouth at the chozuya (water purification basin) before approaching the main hall.
- Offerings: Visitors can make offerings of money, sake, or other items at the shrine. It is customary to ring the bell before making your offering.
- Photography: Photography is generally allowed within the shrine grounds, but it is important to be respectful and avoid taking pictures of people without their permission.
- Respectful Behavior: Maintain a respectful and quiet demeanor while visiting the shrine. Avoid loud talking or disruptive behavior.
There is limited parking available at Kanagoryo Shrine. Visitors are encouraged to use public transportation or park in nearby parking lots and walk to the shrine.
- On-Site Parking: There are a few parking spaces available at the shrine, but these are often limited and may fill up quickly during peak times.
- Nearby Parking Lots: There are several parking lots located within a short walking distance of the shrine. These parking lots typically charge a fee.
- Public Transportation: Kanagoryo Shrine is easily accessible by public transportation. The closest station is Shinjuku Station, which is served by several train and subway lines.
Popular Stalls and Food Carts in Recent Years
|Type of Stall
|A staple at Japanese festivals. Characterized by a crispy outside and a creamy inside.
|A simple yet popular snack of hot potatoes lavishly topped with melted butter.
|Small castella cakes, sweet and fluffy treats enjoyed by children and adults alike.
|Grilled Ayu with Salt
|Fresh ayu fish grilled whole with salt, a savory taste of Japanese summer.
|A unique gourmet item influenced by foreign cuisine, with a chewy skin wrapping the filling.
|A Japanese grilled dish where you often choose your own ingredients for a personalized flavor.
|A fluffy, sweet snack that’s extremely popular with children.
|A banana coated in chocolate, a fun and visually appealing dessert.
|Various types of ingredients skewered and grilled, an easy-to-enjoy snack.
|Fried noodles mixed with a special sauce, a fast food favorite in Japan.