Renowned nationwide for prosperity in business, gastronomy, attire, accommodation, advancements in performing arts, and notably for its reputed efficacy in curing eye ailments, Chanoki Inari Shrine holds an auspicious origin deeply embedded in Japan’s cultural tapestry.

Enshrining Inari

Inari, a revered Shinto deity in Japan, embodies the essence of prosperity, fertility, and agricultural abundance. Often depicted as a benevolent fox, Inari’s symbolism extends beyond its mythical fox messengers to encompass the vital role of rice cultivation in Japanese society. Inari’s influence transcends agriculture, encompassing commerce, industry, arts, and household safety. Devotees offer rice, sake, and fox statues at Inari shrines, reflecting a deep cultural connection to the cycles of life and nature. Inari’s enduring presence in Japanese culture is not confined to religious practices but extends to literature, art, and modern media, showcasing its profound impact on the nation’s collective consciousness.

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Legend of Healing Eye Diseases

Nestled in the precincts of Ichigaya Hachiman Shrine, founded by the esteemed Kukai during his journey to the Kanto region, Chanoki Inari Shrine dates back over a millennium. It is believed that Kobo Daishi conducted his inaugural ceremony at the shrine, designating it as the sacred grounds of the mountain’s landowners, hence the ancient moniker, Mt. Inari.

The enshrined deity has been revered for its miraculous healing powers, especially in relation to eye ailments. According to ancient tales, a white fox, Inari Okami’s messenger on the mountain, inadvertently injured its eye on a tea tree. Consequently, devotees developed an aversion to tea, refraining from its consumption during the New Year’s Mikkabi. Those suffering from eye problems were encouraged to offer prayers for 17, 37, or 21 days, believed to result in miraculous recoveries and the fulfillment of various wishes.

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Cultural Significance and Worship Traditions

The majesty of Chanoki Inari Shrine resonates far and wide, attracting a steady stream of pilgrims. Annual festivities, kagura performances, and monthly celebrations, draw crowds. During the former Shogunate period, warriors, civilians, and even daimyo revered the shrine. The temple complex, including the main shrine, worship hall, torii gates, stone shrines, steps, lanterns, and komainu, reflects the shrine’s gradual development. Inscriptions on centuries-old goldstone offerings within the temple grounds attest to its fame, attracting individuals from diverse backgrounds, including martial artists, writers, artists, and merchants.

Despite disruptions during wartime, enthusiastic believers in areas like Nihonbashi Uogashi, Daidenmacho wholesalers, and Kojimachi Ushigome’s downtown region fervently practiced various rituals such as Shintoism-ko and Kosai-ko during the Meiji and Taisho eras. After a hiatus post-war, worship resumed in 2000, rejuvenating the shrine’s spiritual legacy.