On The Fox Trail……In Haneda (Tokyo)

Just a couple of stops from Haneda Airport is a major centre of Inari worship called Anamori Inari Shrine which I first visited in August last year. On that occasion I picked up a pamphlet about an shrine walking shrine tour of the Haneda area which gave me the inspiration for this latest instalment in the ‘On The Fox Trail’ series. People tend to do this eight gods of fortune tour around the New Year period as they pray for each type of luck that the shrines protect them against.

 

With rain imminent in the afternoon I made an early start and arrived at Kojiya station in Ota prefecture at 9am. I set off in the vague direction of the first place but went the wrong way. Not a good start! It wouldn’t be the last time I lost my sense of direction on this trail. Haginaka Shrine (1-5-18 Haginaka) opened proceedings and was dispatched rapidly as I was keen to tick the places off as quickly as possible due to my low expectations for this course leading to Anamori Inari. Haginaka was guarded by lion dogs and contained a small playground within its vicinity which I thought was quite rare. Rather surprising was a banner on the main hall advertising the 2019 rugby World Cup which is hosted by Japan.

 

Jodenmyoho Inari-jinja Shrine (1-12-9 Honhaneda) was just round the corner and again there was a playground on site. Three friendly young girls were playing on the swings and tried to speak to me in English and one even asked if I was there for a cherry blossom party! I wasn’t but the reason I did it on this date was in the hope of seeing some sakura on my journey. Sadly, the predictions for that being the peak weekend were wide of the mark and I saw very little pink during the limited sakura window. With rain forecast for the afternoon, and not having a clue what it would be like the following week (on my day off), I had no choice but to do it on the last day of March.

   

Those who want to pray for bountiful harvests pop along to the tiny Jusaiwai Inari Shrine (1-7-14 Honhaneda).

 

A bit further down the road is Takayama Inari Shrine (3-12 Honhaneda) which helps bestow success in studying and longevity on those who visit this shrine. The honden (main building) was relocated to this location in 1929.

  

Bonus: Haneda Shrine (3-3-9-12 Honhaneda) is not officially part of the tour but I thought I’d pop in due to its grander sounding name and only being a little detour within sight of the main road I was following. A case of now or never I guess!

I somehow managed to miss the next two places (as I wasn’t using the maps app on my phone to save battery) but eventually backtracked to capture them for this post. Kamome Inari Shrine (6-20 Haneda) is one for good luck and happiness. Kamome translates as seagull in Japanese and fishermen would visit it to pray for success at sea which supposedly resulted in flocks of them arriving to help provide a big catch.

 

Up next was Tamagawa Benzaiten (6−13−10 Haneda); a place that brings worshippers economic fortune which seems a little ironic given the poor state of it. What a dump! It did have some interesting dragon carvings in the roof of the main hall though.

 

Bonus: Just across a bridge from the main road is Haneda Airport which, to my surprise, has the giant red torii gate of the former Anamori Inari Shrine (1 Chome Haneda-kūkō). Small mannekin neko’s welcoming people at the foot of the giant posts. There have been attempts to move this torii gate in the past but they have often been met with disastrous consequences for those who tried to shift it.

On the home straight and Shirauo Inari Shrine (5-27 Haneda) was another small one to check off my list. The god enshrined here is believed to help protect against destructive fires.

Anamori Inari Shrine (5-2-7 Haneda) was of course my ultimate destination and the main reason for this whole walking tour of the area. This shrine was once located within Haneda Airport but was moved to its current location just after WWII.

   

Anamori is very much a power spot for those who believe in that kind of thing. The sand located within the shrine’s hall of worship, has the power to attract people and worshippers who pray for the sake of their business often take some sand to spread around the front entrance of their businesses in order to attract customers.

 

Alongside the main hall are many little shrines with fox statues and figurines galore and eventually you end up at at what looks like a cupboard full of small torii gates though I’m sure it’s far more spiritual than that! That may even be the power spot! That’s not actually the end though as there is a narrow path to the left going behind the main hall with steps leading up to a garden which is very much hidden away from many visitors to this shrine.

 

Anamori Inari Shrine holds a festival of lanterns near the end of August each year so I may still one day make the effort to venture out to Haneda for reasons other than just flying off somewhere!

   

The last time I visited this many shrines in one day was when I cycled the ‘Ten Shrines Of Tokyo‘ in one day which is a ridiculous number but when there’s some kind of loosely themed connection I am fairly content. I then headed to the station and continued on to Haneda Airport’s domestic terminal to do some plane spotting (link will appear here soon!!) before returning to Anamori Inari station for some lunch.

 

Aburaage (deep fried tofu) is the choice of food for foxes and close to the station was a restaurant I wanted to try. However, vegan restaurant ‘Aburaage’ (5-20-6 Haneda) had sadly closed down so instead I headed home to the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre for some kitsune (*) soba noodles which are seemingly far less common than the more regular udon style kitsune. That was followed by some animal biscuit snacks containing just a solitary fox!

 

In keeping up with the fox theme of the day I then decided it was time to finally watch ‘The Fox And The Hound‘ (1981) and I have to say I was dreading its finale as I really did think it would end in tears. Even though it’s over three decades old I won’t reveal what actually did happen at the conclusion!

(*) For those not in the know, kitsune has two meanings in Japanese; aburaage and fox!

Click on the links below to read previous ‘On The Fox Trail……’ posts…

Zao Fox Village (Miyagi)              Fushimi-Inari Shrine (Kyoto)              Oji (Tokyo)              Saijo-Inari Shrine (Okayama)              Toyokawa Inari Tokyo Betsuin (Tokyo)             Osaka              Toyokawa Inari (Aichi)              Kasama Inari Shrine (Ibaraki)

About tokyofox

A Leicester City fan teaching English in Japan
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