The first seven days of the year are considered among the luckiest in Japan, so Shichifukujin Meguri (or the visit to the seven lucky gods) is really popular: this year I decided to visit the shrines and temples of Minato.
I’ve been attached to old things lately, probably because of what has been happening in the world for the past couple of years, but I also try to push myself to do new stuff, especially since I’m in Tokyo. So, I thought it was a good idea to say a round of thanks to local shrines and temples in my city, Minato.
You can check about the Shichifukujin Meguri and who are the gods you’re praying by reading my previous article here, back when I did the pilgrimage in Yanesen. The one in Minato is a bit different in that you visit eight between shrines and temples, instead of seven. And I’ll tell you why below.
Although there is a recommended route on the city website, that aims at letting you discover Azabujuban once you’ve finished, there is not set route and you can start from wherever it’ more convenient for you. Also, the website says that by foot it takes around 3-4 hours to complete the Shichifukujin Meguri in Minato. It took us about 2 hours and a half. I suggest you create your own map or journey pinpointing all the locations, so you won’t have to double check the names each time. The shrines and temples are easily recognisible from the red flags with “港七福神 めぐり” (Minato Shichifukujin Meguri) written on them.
For us, the first stop was Azabu Hikawa Shrine, that enshrines Bishamonten. And yes, this is also the shrine where Rei (Sailor Mars) works in Sailor Moon! It also enshrines deities Susanoo and Yamato Takeru. The shrine is really popular with locals as the main guardian entity for the Azabu area. At the first stop, you get your shikishi with the first stamp from the shop (500 yen). Each of the stamps costs 500 yen. Prices have really gone up recently, they were 300 yen last time.
Second stop down the slope was Daihoji Temple, founded in 1597 and renowned for bringing fortune and good luck to its worshippers. Daikokuten is enshrined here and he seems to also have additional powers in Daihoji. The temple is only open for the Shichifukujin Meguri and Koshi-no-hi.
Third stop was the Juuban Inari shrine, which is technically the eighth one. The Minato Shichifukujin Meguri is the only one where you also visit the shrine where the Takarabune (宝船 – Treasure Ship) is enshrined. The Takarabune is the ship who brought the seven lucky gods from the heavens down to Earth. You can see a small statue of the ship at the shrine. The Juuban Inari shrine was created by merging two shrines that were destroyed during World War II.
On the side, there are two frog statues that are said to protect your house from fire: legend has it that a frog appeared during the Bunsei Fire in 1821 and started spouting water to kill the flames.
If you haven’t been in the area before, I suggest you leave Juuban Inari Shrine for last, or have a longer stop here, to enjoy the beatiful Azabujuban shopping street.
We headed towards Akabanebashi station and Shiba Park to our fourth stop, Hojuin Temple. Build in 1685, it’s a sub-temple of Zojoji and it’s just under Tokyo Tower. Hojuin Temple enshrines Benzaiten, and a statue of the goddess that was apparently held by Tokugawa Ieyasu is disclosed every April 17th.
Then, we briefly passed by Tokyo Tower to reach Iikura Kumano Shrine. It seems the shrine was originally built in Shibaura and was later moved to its present location. The shrine deity is Ebisu, maybe because he is also god of fisherman and voyage safety.
Sixth stop was Hisakuni Shrine in the back alleys of Roppongi. Hotei is enshrined here. Be careful to not pass it by while you’re looking for it. There’s a small play area for children on the shrine grounds.
Headed slightly off Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi for the seventh stop, Tenso Shrine. The shrine was founded in 1384 and enshrines Fukurokuju, Amaterasu, Izanagi and Izanami. There’s also a black dragon statue at the shrine, as a legend tells that a dragon used to fly here every night from the bay to light a candle.
The eighth stop brought us back to Azabujuban, at Sakurada Shrine, enshrining Jurojin. It seems it was moved from Kasumigaseki in 1624, and its name is probably derived from nearby cherry trees that separated the area from rice fields.
Now, I was happy I completed the shikishi as we finished the morning getting some warm food and drinks from the nearby konbini and heading home. Overall it was really nice and easy in some parts, because I know the area. Remember that Azabujuban and Roppongi are built on hills, so prepare for going up and down a lot.
Would you like to do a Shichifukujin Meguri?