Special Feature: Shrines that Connect People Together
What do you think of when you hear the word enmusubi (“matchmaking”)?
I think that many people have the impression that enmusubi equates to the fulfillment of love. I, too, was like that until a while ago.
While, of course, its main connotation is the fulfillment of love, enmusubi also seems to mean "connecting" such as with work and networking in addition to love.
After knowing this, I have started visiting shrines more often for enmusubi.
In this article, I'll be introducing some recommended shrines that are said to bring blessings of enmusubi. If there is a shrine you are interested in, it surely must be fate! It would be an honor if I could create an opportunity to connect you with the shrines introduced here.
Tokyo Daijingu Shrine
When it comes to enmusubi in Tokyo, the Tokyo Daijingu Shrine in Iidabashi is a no-brainer! It’s a 5-minute walk from the West Exit of JR Iidabashi Station.
Tokyo Daijingu, which is called "the Ise of Tokyo'", is a shrine that was built as a yohaiden, the hall for worshipping from afar, of Ise Jingu.
Therefore, a visit to Tokyo Daijingu is said to bring the same blessings as a visit to Ise Jingu. It really helps out since Ise Jingu is quite a challenge to visit from Tokyo
There are two main reasons why Tokyo Daijingu became famous for enmusubi.
Point #1: Shinto Wedding Ceremonies
While it is now common to have a wedding ceremony at a shrine, the first ever Shinto wedding ceremony was held at Tokyo Daijingu. For this reason, many couples hold Shinto wedding ceremonies at Tokyo Daijingu, making it famous for its blessings of enmusubi.
Point #2: Blessings of Enmusubi
Point #2: Blessings of Enmusubi
Tokyo Daijingu is a shrine that has many reviews from people who have actually visited it, saying that it "had blessings." It is said to be the strongest enmusubi spot since it has blessed many people, including comments such as "My one-sided love was answered", "We were a match", and "We got back together."
In fact, after visiting Tokyo Daijingu, I, too, prayed for the blessings of enmusubi.
A few years ago, when I drew a love fortune at Tokyo Daijingu, I found out that my other half's star sign, blood type, age difference, zodiac sign, and the direction of the house they lived in were exactly on point. That alone was quite a surprise, but it didn't end there.
When I visited the shrine, I came back with the most popular enmusubi charm at Tokyo Daijingu, Suzuran-mamori, an omamori with powers as rumored.
Suzuran-mamori has a shrine crest on the knot, and it is said that your wish will come true if the crest comes off.
However, since it is tied so firmly, I thought to myself, "It’ll never come off before my wishes come true." However, after 2-3 months, it did come off.
My memory is vague as it was many years ago, but I was really shocked when I saw that the shrine crest came off.
Since then, things have changed bit by bit for the better, and the two of us were able to go for a New Year's visit to the shrine the following year. I am planning to get married to my partner this year.
I have visited various shrines, but Tokyo Daijingu gives me a warm feeling whenever I go.
I really like the atmosphere filled with the wonderful feeling of wanting to connect with someone, so I especially recommend this shrine.
The omikuji and omamori are all cute, so please check them out on their website.
Shiba Daijingu Shrine
Shiba Daijingu, which boasts a history of over 1,000 years, is a 5-minute walk away from the North Exit of JR Hamamatsucho Station.
While it is located in the middle of the business district, I saw many who came by bicycle and put their hands together before going home, as well as people who put their hands together while walking their dogs.
Tokyo Daijingu used to be "the Ise of Tokyo", while Shiba Daijingu is called "the Ise of Kanto" as the deities of the inner and outer shrines of Ise Jingu are enshrined and it is a familiar place to the locals.
There are stone steps after passing through the large torii gate, and when you reach the top, you will see the worship hall in front of you, and the chozuya water basin to your left.
Please note that this chozuya is a little confusing. I visited the shrine without going to the chozuya, and later deeply regretted it...
The Shiba Daijingu Shrine is famous for its chigibako box.
Chigibako is a cute omamori that has been sold as a lucky charm at Shiba Daijingu since ancient times. The small, medium, and large boxes with wisteria paintings are bundled together with vines, gently moving left and right while making a rattling sound when shaken.
The true identity of this sound is soybeans, with each box containing one, two, and three beans, respectively.
The ki (“wood”) character in chigibako can be read as gi (“wear”), so it is said that it allows you to get married to a good place where you don't have to worry about what to wear, making it popular with women who wish for a good relationship.
In the Edo period, many people kept their kimonos in their closets in the hope that they would have more.
Chigibako is very popular, but it is not always available for purchase as it is handmade by one craftsman.
It seems that it is often awarded at the Daradara Festival of Shiba Daijingu Shrine and the Tsukinami-sai festival on the first day of every month, but I visited around 9:30 in the morning on the 27th.
At that time, I didn't feel like there were only a few left, so maybe the timing was good.
Chigibako, which is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, would make a great souvenir.
In addition, Shiba Daijingu has a famous omamori other than chigibako.
Its name is go'un-mamori - not read as "kyo'un" but "go'un". There are two types of these lucky charms for men and women, each made with the lucky color of the year. The powerful characters of go'un (“strong luck”) are reliable.
With Keiko Kitagawa and DAIGO also enjoying carrying them as a couple, the go'un-mamori became a hot topic.
Indeed, they look like a couple that’s protected by strong luck. It is said that the shrine was often visited before marriage, with more and more people visiting it to pray for true love and a good relationship while looking up to the power couple.
Shiba Daijingu is popular among office workers, as it is said to bring blessings for business prosperity.
It is a reassuring shrine that strongly ties together various connections.
Akasaka Hikawa Shrine
Speaking of Akasaka Hikawa Shrine, it is a famous enmusubi shrine that ranks with Tokyo Daijingu.
Even if you have never visited it before, many of you may have already heard the name of Akasaka Hikawa Shrine.
With a 10-minute walk from Akasaka Station on the Chiyoda Line, Akasaka Hikawa Shrine is located in a very quiet area surrounded by greenery.
The main shrine, which is designated as an important cultural property of Tokyo, is a valuable building that survived the two major Ansei and Kanto earthquakes and miraculously survived the Great Tokyo Air Raids.
The enshrined deities of this Akasaka Hikawa Shrine are Susanoo-no-Mikoto and Kushinadahime, a very close deity couple, and their descendant Oonamuchi.
The enshrined deities are the reason why the Akasaka Hikawa Shrine is famous for enmusubi.
When you think of the most famous enmusubi shrine in Japan, which shrine comes to mind?
Perhaps, many people would think of Izumo Taisha.
It is said that the enshrined deities of the Akasaka Hikawa Shrine, Susanoo-no-Mikoto and Kushinadahime, built a palace in Izumo after they got married.
Furthermore, Oonamuchi is also the enshrined deity of Izumo Taisha.
At Akasaka Hikawa Shrine, where the strongest enmusubi gods are gathered, "enmusubi visits" are held once a month.
It helps to receive prayers not only for relationships between men and women, but also for family, friends, and work. As it is very popular with spots filling up quickly, I recommend that you check the official website frequently if you are thinking about praying there.
Like Tokyo Daijingu, the Akasaka Hikawa Shrine also has a lot of cute amulets and omikuji. The omikuji with a cherry knot that I chose contains a red thread and a cherry made of small balls. The red threads, tied one by one by the shrine maiden, are said to have the power to guide you to your fated one and the power to prevent disaster.
The cherry knot is tied with a wish made on the wish tree in front of the shrine office.
There are many cherry knots that are tied, so you can easily find them.
On a separate note, I often encounter weddings when I visit shrines.
When I visited the Akasaka Hikawa Shrine, right after I put the money into the offering box, a shrine maiden ran over and asked me, "The bride and groom are coming, so could you wait for a bit?" I then got to partake in the happy atmosphere from an unobtrusive place.
I wouldn't have been surprised if that was it, but a few hours before visiting the Akasaka Hikawa Shrine, I encountered a wedding ceremony at another shrine in Tokyo.
It is sometimes said that while encountering a wedding at a shrine will make you happy and bring you luck, simply being present at someone's celebration makes you feel happy.
The wedding ceremony at Akasaka Hikawa Shrine, which is full of greenery, has a very sacred atmosphere, making me convinced that the shrine was popular for weddings.
Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine
The Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine is popular among young women for its unusual omikuji and stylish precincts.
Of course, it is also known for its blessings of enmusubi, earning it the title of "the best enmusubi shrine" just like Tokyo Daijingu.
Among the shrines introduced here, this one is not in Tokyo but in Kawagoe, Saitama, which is a little far from the former but is still a wonderful shrine worth visiting.
With a 10-minute bus ride distance from the East Exit of JR/Seibu Kawagoe Station, it's a bit far from the station, but if you have time, I highly recommend walking over there.
As Kawagoe is also focusing on tourism, you can enjoy retro buildings and eating while walking.
The Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine is famous for enmusubi, and there is a secret to its omamori. The variety of omamori is comparable to that of Tokyo Daijingu, and the designs are so cute that you can't help but notice them! However, for those who want to have the strongest enmusubi omamori at Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, I recommend the enmusubi-dama ("matchmaking ball").
At Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, there is a legend that if you take home a pebble from the precincts and treasure it, you will be blessed with a good relationship.
For this reason, the shrine maiden picks up the gravel from the main shrine, wraps it in a linen net, purifies it, and calls it enmusubi-dama, which is given as an omamori charm.
However, the enmusubi-dama is not always available and is an extremely rare omamori.
Only 20 are awarded per day. They sell out as soon as the shrine office opens at 8:00 every morning, so many people line up early in the morning to get a numbered ticket.
I visited the shrine in the early afternoon, but I was not able to see the enmusubi-dama.
It's not all over after receiving the enmusubi-dama.
If you can find your partner for life whom you can say is "the one", the two of you will return the enmusubi-dama to the shrine together. Then, in exchange for the enmusubi-dama that was returned, you will be able to receive the yuihimo-no-moto ("source of tying knots"). This is an item of prayer in which the relationship between two people will be firmly tied together for a long time.
If you bring the yuihimo-no-moto when having a wedding ceremony at the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, they will knit it to create a ring-shaped yuihimo.
At the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, instead of exchanging rings, this yuihimo is tied to each other's left pinky.
I think there's no other shrine for enmusubi that watches over you over such a long time.
Although I don't think you can see it easily, I'd love to see the yuihimo in person.
In addition to the wonderful amulets, Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine has become a hot topic for its unusual omikuji.
That is this [Sea Bream Fortune]
- Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine/Sea Bream Fortune (Love Luck)
- Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine: Sea bream omikuji (overall luck)
There are two types of sea bream omikuji: red and pink.
You can't hold the sea bream omikuji by hand, so a nearby pole is used. It's pretty fun at this point.
Hook the metal fittings on the tip of the pole to the string attached to the sea bream omikuji and catch it.
It's fun to do it by yourself, but if you go with friends, family, or on a date, you'll definitely have a blast!
When I visited the shrine, there were many windmills decorated in the precincts, making it a shrine with an artistic atmosphere that was a bit different from the others.
Depending on the time of year, wind chimes are displayed instead of windmills, so I would love to pay a visit again.
Asagaya Shinmeigu Shrine
Last but not least, the Asagaya Shinmeigu Shrine is not an enmusubi shrine.
It is famous for warding off evil spirits and is the only place in Japan where you can pray for hachinan-yoke ("removal of the eight difficulties").
The location is very easy to find with a 2-minute walk from the North Exit of JR Asagaya Station.
The Asagaya Shinmeigu Shrine is famous for offering a slightly different enmusubi experience than the ones introduced here so far.
In the beginning, I explained that enmusubi means not only the fulfillment of love but also work and personal connections. However, at Asagaya Shinmeigu, it is also known as a shrine where you connect with the gods.
The reason for this is the kami-musubi ("deity knot") omamori that can only be obtained at Asagaya Shinmeigu.
As the name suggests, kami-musubi is an omamori charm used to pray to connect with the gods and increase your luck, and the final production of it, which is delicately woven like lace. is done by a shrine maiden.
There are more than 10 types of kami-musubi.
All of them have the shrine crest of Asagaya Shinmeigu, with some having not only the crest but also a moon charm attached to make it a kami-musubi of the enshrined deity Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto, along with rainbow torii kami-musubi with torii gate charms, making it pleasing to the eyes.
Without hesitation, I chose the rainbow torii.
The rainbow-colored torii gate shines well against the white lace, which is so beautiful that you will forget that it is an omamori. Everyone seems to have their own way of wearing it, such as putting it on the wrist like a bracelet or attaching it to a bag, and it has become a hot topic on social media, with posts saying, "My wish came true after wearing a kami-musubi." Many people have felt that their luck has improved overall, rather than having a specific wish come true.
It's reassuring to know that the gods are watching over you.
With limited-edition kami-musubi based on the season, it is recommended to visit each season.
Cherry blossom and hydrangea designs are also available, making you want to collect them all.
Asagaya Shinmeigu also has a unique shuin, with beautiful ones with embroidery on Japanese paper being popular.
The design also changes depending on the season, so some people actually visit the shrine for 12 consecutive months to make a shuin stamp book just for Asagaya Shinmeigu. Like the kami-musubi, its embroidery is a must-see, with a beauty that makes you forget that you're looking at a shuin stamp.
So, what do you think?
In this article, I've introduced shrines that have the blessings of enmusubi.
All of them are famous shrines, so you may have visited some of them before.
From the bottom of my heart, I hope that each and every one of you will have many good relationships in 2023 and be united.