Only a couple of weeks ago did I say the words “I’m not really a temple or shrine person” after my trip around YaNeSen where I went to Nezu Jinja Shrine. It was whilst doing my research on that place that I came across the “Ten Shrines Of Tokyo‘ which are considered the most important as they were selected in 1868 by Emperor Meiji after he had moved to Edo and renamed it Tokyo.
It’s been a while since I did a pointless and meaningless cycling challenge in and around Tokyo so the idea of riding around all ten of these in one day appealed. The main reason I decided to do this was to finally use my iPhone map to get around and find a few places which was a major reason for investing in the technology yet I had never used that function until this ride. Furthermore I wanted to use an app I have which tracks how far you ride (or run) and how many calories you burn as well as other statistical information like average pace and speed and elevation climb. I also wanted to go cycling as I have been too injured to go running recently and was feeling in need of a long cycle ride to help my fitness. I had only visited one of the places on the list and that was only a fortnight ago as I mentioned before. Some of the shrines were in parts of Tokyo I had never really been to. I was actually quite surprised that Meiji-jingu Shrine, Tokyo’s biggest and most famous one, was not included in the list.
It was a lovely sunny morning (May 25) when I left my apartment in north Tokyo just after 8am on my bicycle which has a non-existent front brake (broken) and a back brake which when squeezed tightly still takes about 100 metres to stop. The ten shrines are numbered in the order I did them as opposed to them being ranked in order by Emperor Meiji.
1) Oji Jinja Shrine (1-1-12 Oji Hon-cho, Kita-ku) – Hidden away on some back streets and located right next to a school with foxes guarding something or another.
2) Hakusan Shrine (5-31-26 Hakusan, Bunkyo-ku) – Fairly small and completely deserted shrine next to a construction site.
3) Nezu Shrine (1-28-9 Nezu, Bunkyo-ku) – Possibly the most famous of the ten but given that I blogged about this place very recently I have very little to add.
4) Kanda Shrine (2-16-2 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku) – Huge spacious complex with all the usual goings on as well as having a donkey there too. My camera started playing up here in terms of the 10 second timer not working and the sky was beginning to look more grey.
5) Kameido Tenjin Shrine (3-6-1 Kameido, Koto-ku) – Difficult to find and where I discovered that iPhone maps direct you to the actual shrine building part rather than the entrance which I cycled by and then want back and forth around some back streets looking for what was the back entrance. Have I used the word ‘back’ enough there?! This shrine is famous for its drum bridges and whilst I was there there was a drum band playing some melodic tunes. Unfortunately it was here that the rain finally broke through the clouds.
6) Tomioka Hachiman Shrine (1-20-3 Tomioka, Koto-ku) – Heavier rain led to me wearing the hat (to keep the water out of my eyes) which I’d brought to stop my head burning. If only!
7) Shiba Daimyojin Shrine (1-12-7 Shiba-Daimon, Minato-ku) – Took a while to locate and was done using the address rather than the maps function. By now my battery was starting to die. This was a very small place with some steps up to the shrine.
8) Shinagawa Shrine (3-7 Kita Shinagawa) – Another one which was difficult to find. The shrine is guarded by stone dragons and it had a series of red torii gates to its side. I met a man here who tried to tell me a story about the place in English but I didn’t really understand what he was really getting at.
9) Hikawa Shrine (6-10-12 Akasaka, Minato-ku) – More foxes on show and again hardly a soul in start no doubt due to it being a weekday afternoon and it raining.
10) Hie Shrine (2-10-5 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku) – Thankfully this one was close to the previous one and a big place with a couple of flights of steep steps going up to the grounds. The ones I took up had some beautiful red torii gates leading you to the shrine. The complex was quite spacious not that I really cared as I was just relieved to have finished!
Mind you, I still had to cycle home from there which was over an hour away. Having not once looked at my phone since finding the last shrine I got home and checked out the information regarding the ride. Overall I did 7 hrs 25 cycling and covered 76.31km (47.41miles) burning off 2938 calories. If I had been to two or three of these shrines in the same day via foot and train then I would have been bored but I have to say that I enjoyed all the shrines as it was a sense of achievement and relief to find each and every one of them. You could say that I had a shrine time!
UPDATE: It seems that I went to the wrong shrine in Oji as it’s the similarly named Oji Inari-jinja Shrine (1-12-26 Kishimachi, Kita-ku) which is part of the ten shrines! They are only 600 metres apart and I have been to both. The link below contains more details about this one.
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Riding One Of Tokyo’s Last Surviving Tram Lines’