Hie-Jinja Shrine 日枝神社
Leaning against a hill between the buildings of Akasaka, Hie Jinja has an soothing atmosphere for overworked employees and disoriented travelers.
Two statues representing monkeys welcome visitors. The mother tenderly cradling her child is a symbol of the site, deemed to promote fertility and prevent miscarriage. At around noon many dark suits take over the place. Employees of surrounding businesses come to eat lunch here on sunny days and relax before returning to their offices.
The shrine is dedicated to Oyamakui-no-kami, the guardian of Mount Hiei near Kyoto, in Shinto. Erected in 1478 to guard Edo Castle, the former name of Tokyo, shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) used Hie-Jinja to protect the city when he made it the new capital of the country. Reduced to ashes by a fire in 1657 that devastated Tokyo and then by the American bombing of 1945, the current buildings date to 1958.
It is a real place of prayer, away from the fury of the city. Even if the architecture is not the most spectacular in Japan, the authentic atmosphere of meditation that prevails is in fact a powerful experience. Go on a sunny day. The torii (Shinto red gates) become incandescent. Enjoy immersion in the scarlet gallery before returning to the dark asphalt of the city.
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