Earlier this year, when I came up with the ridiculous idea of cycling round every Inari Shrine (on Google Maps!) in all of Tokyo’s 23 wards the one I most dreaded doing was Ota-ku as it’s the furthest south and would be a mammoth task. I was not wrong!
This was going to be a long one so an early start was in order. I left the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre at 7:36 am and the 67 minute ride along Kanana-dori Street (Route 318) to my first shrine was cold, uneventful and fairly dull. This was the same route I took on the way to find the mystery drink dispensing vending machine so I didn’t feel the need to stop by some of the same places I went to on that ride such as the architectural wonder that is the Rissho Kosei-kai Headquarters in Nakano. For the record, the details of that first shrine and all the others won’t appear in a post on this site for at least another 12 months.
As I made my way deeper into Ota Ward I passed the Yamato Industrial Building (5-1-1 Heiwaijima, Ota-ku) which I recognised instantly having snapped it a few years ago for this ‘Tokyo Modern Architecture‘ post.
This journey wasn’t just shrine based as there were a few other places I wanted to check out starting with Suganuma Chassis Pool (4-10-7 Tokai, Ota-ku). This is certainly no sight but was something I came across a few months ago and wanted to see as it’s one of those things which is made all the more interesting by it’s relative dullness!
It’s not everyday that you get to see a such a massive wine rack-like structure with 480 container slots awaiting use by companies needing to transport stuff via a special trailer. Hmmm, maybe it’s not as interesting as I thought it might be!!
Haneda Airport was my intended destination right after that but I had been looking at the map from a car point of view (as I often do) and bicycles weren’t allowed on the road heading that way. Instead I had to backtrack a bit and take an alternative route which did allow me the chance to see the majestic and spiritual Mount Fuji in the distance in all it’s snow-peaked glory. This was definitely a case of life through a lens not being better than the human eye!
For some reason my phone battery was bleeding dry and was already down to single percentage figures by the time I dropped by Haneda Swing Bridge earlier than planned. Luckily I had a recently purchased portable charger on hand to save the day. My Apple lightning earphone adaptor had earlier broken as well and was promptly replaced by my spare one. Luckily I was prepared for all of this!
This movable bridge lies on the Ebitori River next to Morigasaki Park but it has not been in use since April 1998 following just eight years of operation. The two bridge girders rotated clockwise to allow large ships to pass through the area successfully. It actually was quite an interesting spectacle and evoked memories of car chases over bridges which have not been completed!
You really don’t need to go to Kyoto to see the next beautiful sight. Sure, Fushimi Inari Shrine is better but if it’s just dozens and dozens of red torii gates you want to see then there are a couple of options in Tokyo. One is Hie Shrine (2-10-5 Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku) and the other is Anamori Inari Shrine which is just a couple of train stops from Haneda Airport. It’s been a few years since I visited this place and it’s been spruced up a fair bit with a tower at the rear of the shrine being built. It was even more impressive this time.
This shrine is very much a power spot for those who believe in that kind of thing. It was once located within Haneda Airport but was moved to its current location just after WWII. As for the former Anamori Inari Shrine, that was close by and was briefly seen in ‘Shin Godzilla‘ (2016) so it was a good opportunity to capture an image more similar to the screenshot below.
From there the road followed the coastline for a while and I could even see the distinctive Kaze no Tō (the tower of wind) in the distance which is part of Umihotaru; the floating service station in the middle of Tokyo Bay. It was actually ‘Shin Godzilla‘ which brought this place to my attention as filming was done on and around the island. I hadn’t even given the place a thought when planning this particular trip.
Eventually the wide and quiet spacious roads made way for the tunnel that I unexpectedly went through in the wake of my return from Sapporo to Haneda in the early hours of September 2019 when I had to walk between terminals. Walking the path was one thing but cycling it was not so good for my tyres due to the rough, bumpy nature of the surface.
Just beyond the tunnel exit were a heap of discarded bicycles from people who have maybe done similar journeys in the past and not lived to tell the tale! Had I got a puncture or something then my bike may well have joined the pile!
I could then see what had brought me out all this way. I actually knew beforehand that I wouldn’t be able to see it up close too as it’s located within the grounds of the JAL Sky Museum (next to Shin-Seibijo Station on the Tokyo Monorail) and a pass is needed to enter that area.
All I could really do was lean over the hedge lining the perimeter and push the camera through the fence. Was it all worth the effort?! Of course it wasn’t but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the adventure!
Just across the road was a runway and a JAL aircraft was just about to take off so I did a bit of plane spotting. It was pretty cool to be so close to a moving plane without actually being a passenger. If it had been one of ANA’s Star Wars planes then it would’ve made my day!
Nearly everyone arrives at the airport by train, car or taxi so as I’d come this far I thought I should do the surreal thing of cycling to the terminals which got quite a few looks from travellers who wouldn’t expect to see such a form of transport in the vicinity.
Terminal 2 was just a few minutes away so I ventured over there to get a few more celebratory shots of my most pointless of missions!
Getting away from the airport was not easy as I couldn’t just return the way I had come due to the one-way travel system in place. I ended up going back and forth a fair bit before finally getting back to the tunnel which would take me out of the area.
A further seven kilometres west along Route 311 took me to my final non-Inari sight of the day although this was also a shrine! Shinmei Daijingu Honmiya (3-26-13 Nishikojiya, Ota-ku) is a Shinto Shrine and has some connection to the huge golden god temple I went to in Nasu (Tochigi Prefecture) a couple of years ago.
I believe they are both part of the same religious group and this is the main shrine. It’s located right next to a railroad crossing and stands out as it’s quite bright with it’s mint green roof and purple and orange coloured paintwork.
Once I’d done my final Inari Shrine near Kugahara Station I was in two minds about taking a quick detour to see Keihin Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kawasaki but decided against it even though it was only a couple of kilometres out of my way. I’d had enough for the day though and just wanted to get back which I knew wouldn’t be so straightforward even though it was quite literally a direct ride along one road albeit a very, very long one. I can’t say it was too enjoyable as I was starting to feel a bit tired but with Christmas just a few days away it felt good to burn off nearly 3000 calories ahead of all the feasting!
Click here to read ‘3 Hour Return Journey On My New Bicycle To Find The Mystery Drink Dispensing Vending Machine!’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Filming Locations #17 – Shin Godzilla (2016)’
Click here to read ‘On The Fox Trail……In Haneda (Tokyo)’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Out & About In Ota’