I’ve been passionate about foxes for a couple of years now, and my love for yokai goes back to the time I was watching Yu Yu Hakusho. Every time I find something related to foxes and yokai, I get all hyped and need to visit or know more.
Now, I visited Sensoji several times over the years and only knew about Asakusa shrine, or Sanja-sama, that honors the three men that founded Sensoji. If you enter the grounds of Asakusa shrine and head a little to the right, next to the shop, you will find a small torii and a small shrine at the end of the road. That’s Hikan Inari shrine.
Story goes that Tatsugoro Shinmon, an Edo period firefighter, built Hikan Inari shrine in 1855. After his wife became severely ill, he prayed at Fushimi Inari shrine for her recovery. When she did recover, he decided to build Hikan Inari shrine as a sign of gratitude towards the god.
Inari is a god of many blessings, including good harvest, household safety and success. It’s not clear what Hikan means, but some suggest it may come from the expression “get a job” or “have a career”, so praying at the shrine might help in securing a good job or advancement in career.
There are two statues of foxes guiding the entrance to the shrine.
The one on the left is a male fox, and holds a jitte, a weapon used by police during the Edo period. The one on the right is a female fox with her cub.
On the left side of the main building of Hikan Inari shrine, there is a small place for fox dolls, or teppo kitsune. Teppo kitsune are representations or messengers of the god. You can purchase them at Asakusa shrine and either bring them home while you wait for your wish to come true, or dedicate them right away.
Hikan Inari shrine is frequented by people from Asakusa and, although I haven’t seen foreign tourists praying there, there are Japanese guided tours that will bring you to Sensoji and also this little shrine.
You can check Hikan Inari shrine in my little tour of Asakusa: