As I stood with my bicycle at the Itoku Inari Daimyojin in Shinjuku mid-November last year I felt no other emotion than a bit of relief. I had completed my fairly pointless mission of cycling to every single Inari Shrine (as listed on Google Maps!) for each of Tokyo’s 23 wards.
It had taken me 19 months to get to that point and on 23 separate days I had visited 200+ shrines. The decorations were up at this fairly big shrine complex in Shinjuku, which once featured in ‘Tokyo Pop‘ (1988), and it was starting to look very nice but of course none of that was for my benefit. They were for New Years celebrations and, despite some construction work some potential shots, it proved to be the best and grandest place to bring the curtain down on my adventure.
Way back in April 2020, the State of Emergency (a soft lockdown of sorts!) resulted in me having two months off work and I gained a bit of weight from just not being able to do too much. This was a time when I had no fully functioning bicycle as my previous one had fallen apart. I bought a new one in early May and began to think of cycling challenges involving the 23 wards of Tokyo. Eventually the idea of visiting every single Inari shrine came to mind and so on May 19th I began the task in my own Itabashi neighbourhood not knowing if I’d actually bother to complete the whole thing!
It was so nice to get out of the house and on the roads away from people to get some exercise. Within six weeks or so I had nearly covered half of the total area I was planning to cycle round. The wards were gradually completed as the months passed by leading up to Christmas but there were a few mammoth rides left to do. One of them was in Ota-ku where there was a very elusive shrine close to Haneda Airport.
A couple more wards were done during the first few months of 2021 but then I hit a real drought and the weeks turned into months as I really lost energy and enthusiasm to complete the last three areas of Tokyo. So near yet so far! Two of them were to be long journeys so that was maybe what put me off, particularly within the hot and humid summer months as well as the rainy seasons.
Six months passed without any action on my part although the backlog was still being posted monthly on this site. As November 2021 came round I finally got my ar*e into gear and decided it all needed to be done before the end of the year. As it was, I did them on three consecutive Fridays starting with Setagaya which was the one that I just never really fancied doing at all.
I was eventually very happy to have completed this cycling challenge. I just wish I’d felt some of that emotion when I reached the final destination in Shinjuku.
Click here to read `TF Top 10……Smallest Inari Shrines In Tokyo (Part 1)
Click here to read `TF Top 20……Smallest Inari Shrines In Tokyo (Part 2)
Click here to read ‘TF Top 10……Abandoned Inari Shrines In Tokyo’s 23 Wards’
Click here to read ‘My Favourite Inari Shrine For Each Of Tokyo’s 23 Wards’