Shrine Gate and grounds—Let’s Go Pray

A wide shot of Iga Hachiman Shrine here, one of the more famous shinto shrines in Okazaki.

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This is my entry in this week’s Show Me Japan, the weekly event that collects photos from all over Japan. Go see what other pretty photos of Japan are there this week.

Daily Photo: Shrine Gate and grounds—Let’s Go Pray

Hachiman is the god of war and it’s said that Ieyasu[1] and his men would come here to pray before battles. There is a cool story involving this shrine and ninja. True or not… well, who knows, but it is claimed to be true by the shrine. It goes like this:

On one occasion, Ieyasu’s men refused to leave the shrine until Hachiman promised them victory. Ever the sly one, Ieyasu hired a local ninja group to move the entrance torii gate at night while his troops were asleep. When his men woke up, they saw the torii had been moved and took this as a sign that Hachiman had granted their wish. In this way, Ieyasu avoided angering his troops by ordering them to leave before they were ready and he managed to inspire them at the same time by making them think god was with them. Clever guy!

The shrine gate may be obvious, so let’s look on the left. The hanging white pieces of paper are fortunes (omikuji). Often people who get lousy fortunes will tie them to these lines, supposedly binding the bad luck along with the paper and leaving it behind. The structure right beside is the cleansing station (temizuya), where you clean yourself before praying.

Probably things I missed. Feel free to add anything in the comments.


  1. Future shogun and all around smart guy whose favorite hobby was waiting. See here. Oh, pronounce his name something like this: E-EH-YAH-SUE  ↩

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12 Responses to Shrine Gate and grounds—Let’s Go Pray

  1. DekoBoko Friday, 21 January 2011 at 8:07 am #

    Wow great HDR!

  2. coco3 Friday, 21 January 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    What a excellent photo!I admire you.

  3. Anna Ikeda Friday, 21 January 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Just wait till my mister comes here and starts giving you the 411 on Hachiman, and how it’s really just a nickname of Hondawake-no-mikoto, and that he’s more than just a god of war. This is what I get for living with a shinto otaku… Oy vey…

    • David @ Ogi Jima Friday, 21 January 2011 at 3:13 pm #

      Shinto Otaku are so much better than the other kind (I’d love to learn more about Hachiman, btw 😉 )

    • David LaSpina / JapanDave Saturday, 22 January 2011 at 2:59 am #

      I’m looking forward to his comment! I admit to being something of a shrine otaku myself, but my limited Japanese and the limited resources in English keep me from learning too much (or prevent my obsession from growing too great, I suppose ^^)

  4. YoshiI Sunday, 23 January 2011 at 5:49 am #

    Fantastic HDR photo with a great tone mapping. I like the contrast of the red color of Zuishinmon Gate (随神門) and the blue sky! I have never been to there so I briefly looked the shrine up… As far as I am concerned, this shrine is another Tosyogu (東照宮) since Ieyasu is worshipped there by Iemitsu. So we got to visit there if we have a chance! As the name of this shrine says, the shrine was moved from Iga Province (Mie prefecture) and Iga is well known for ninja. How interesting to hear from you about what Ieyasu did to his men. Yes, I agree with you that he is a smart guy! Hachiman god/Hondawake/Homutawake/Emperor Ohjin is said to be dead at the age of either 111 (reference?) or 130 years old (by Kojiki). Either way, its way too long-lived human being in 3rd century. Based on that some scholars consider him as a “legendary Emperor”… In many cases, Hondawake and his mom, Empress Jingu are co-enshrined as Hachiman God. Thanks for sharing and sorry for cluttering your blog:)

  5. Anna Ikeda Sunday, 23 January 2011 at 8:49 am #

    oops, I see that mister’s comment got cut. What he wanted to say is that when Hondawake’s mom was pregnant with him, she was pregnant for 3 years. Poor woman…


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