Tokyo’s Love Shrines

July 6th, 2012By Category: Culture, Travel

Every city and every town has its different and unique take on things. One example is Tokyo’s take on the old coin-in-the-fountain routine–the love shine offering.

In other countries, you toss a coin and make a wish for particular things like money, luck, health, sometimes even love. In Japan, generations believed that some Shinto shrines hold the power to help them find and keep their one true love. There are prayers, charms and blessing tablets on sale at these holy sites devoted to love, and the top three are located in Tokyo.

Tokyo Daijingu

According to locals, Tokyo Daijingu is the most powerful shrine for the matters of the heart. In fact, it’s one of the most powerful shrines for just about anything. This shrine is affiliated with the Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture, one of the holiest sites. It was created in 1880, as ordered by the Meiji Emperor so more people could receive the blessings of Ise without having to travel south to Mie.

Women in particular, come to Daijingu for many reasons especially to pray for a new love or to save a troubled one. There are colorful love charms blessed by Shinto priests for sale. One charm opens like a locket to hold a picture of your beloved. There are also painted wooden enmusubi ema tablets that come in various designs and colors. “Enmusubi” is a term that means to join together and is used in conjunction with love and marriage charms.

Imado Jinja

The Imado Jinja is located at the far end of Asakusa, far from temples, shops and the Hanayashiki Amusement Park. It is said to be where the maneki neko or beckoning lucky cat originated. However, Imado Jinja’s symbol is two cats, one male and female, joined together in their beckoning pose, their paws raised higher.

According to locals, there is a difference in which paw the cat holds up. Right beckons luck for a person while left brings in luck for work. The shrine is a pilgrimage point for people and visitors seeking constancy on a lover or lover-to-be.

After saying their prayers, visitors line up to buy charms and queues stretch up to three hours, especially on holidays. Also, some people say that it is considered good love luck to take a picture of the two cats found in the main shrine.

Most visitors get the wooden enmusubi ema, and the cat couple is painted on one side, dressed in Imperial court robes styled after the national Doll’s Festival. Well-wishers write their love or luck wishes on the back, and hang the tablets in front of the main shrine for the gods to read.

Izumo Taisha Tokyo Bunsha

The district of Roppongi is known as the entertainment district for some, but it’s not the place one would normally look for everlasting love. However, it is home to the celebrated love shrine, Izumo Taisha Tokyo Bunsha. It is located on a side street (yes, indeed) opposite Roppongi Hills and is surrounded by restaurants and business facilities.

Izumo Taisha is known for those who want to marry but haven’t found their soul mates yet. It is also an important place for engaged couples or newlyweds to ask that their bond be a lasting one. There are also charms sold around the area, charms for finding your true love and charms to keep marriages strong.

A trip around these three love shrines will give you an idea and will let you see the everyday lives and the grassroots of the Japanese nation. Prayers and wishes could help you find what you’re looking for, but you’ll never know when true love strikes. It could bring good love luck and romance into your life, but it takes a little faith and patience (especially standing in line in buying charms) to get what you want.

Photos by: lazy marilyn and reggiegram and SKMH via Flickr Creative Commons


Author of this article


GaijinPot is an online community for foreigners living in Japan, providing information on everything you need to know about enjoying life here, from finding a job and accommodation to having fun.

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