From time to time one needs to trout themselves to a day out so earlier this year I went to one of Tokyo’s neighbouring prefectures. It was a ridiculously early start as I left home just after 5:00 am and took a near-four hour local train journey to a plaice which has developed as a fishing town since the middle of the 17th century. There were quite a few things I wanted to see and do on this epic day trip, and one of them was to visit a very unique shrine that overlooks the ocean.
The rugged coastline in question is located on a spit in the north-eastern part of Chiba Prefecture and getting there cost about 2500 yen. In British money that’s only about 15 squid so it was basically a fin-fin situation! The fishy shrine I visited is very historical and not one I can kipper secret. It can be found in the port town of Chōshi and was a brisk seven minute whelk south of Tokawa station which is the end point of the Chōshi Electric Railway Line.
In the far corner of some rural landscape is a red torii gate that takes you down a path through a forest of trees.
The Pacific Ocean then appears in the background of a sole red wooden hut with three torii gates in front of it but what caught my attention the most was what I cod see on top of one of the gates!
A closer inspection tells me that it’s a big tai (sea bream) which is tied down by ropes, presumably to prevent it from falling off on very windy days.
The front torii gate has two six-metre long sardines acting as the horizontal bars which all adds to the mystery of the shrine.
A closer look at the peeling wooden gates shows there are conger eels rising up on either side of the front one.
This strange shrine is one where people go in the hope of being blessed with various benefits like fertility, safety, business prosperity, and the chance to net big catches. The latter is all thanks to a fisherman named Chokuro who fell in love with the sea around Choshi at the start of the Edo period (1603-1867). Subsequently, he built this shrine to give a kelping hand from above to visitors. It is now considered to be the best location in Japan for catching fish all year round but I won’t carp on about it!
Another interesting quirk of this fish shrine is the basketball hoop attached to the wooden shed just beyond the trio of gates. The handwritten yellow-painted words reads kokoro no ooatari which translates as something like big hit in the heart!
Just beyond the shrine itself is a more conventional torii gate made of stone standing close to the coastal edge and positioned to catch that perfect rising sun shot. If only I had arrived a few hours earlier!! This location is something of a popular spot for people congregating in the early hours of New Years Day each year to see the first sunrise.
Cape Nagasaki Ichinoshima lighthouse stands tall a short distance south of the hill where the shrine is placed.
Anyway, you have probably haddock up to here with the fish puns. Maybe they are making you feel eel but don’t hake me for them!! Resisting the chance for such cheap puns would’ve broken the halibut of a lifetime, and I just had to crab the opportunity!
- Chobokuri Inari Shrine is located at 10744 Nagasakimachi, Choshi, Chiba-ken. It is open 24 hours a day.
Click here to read ‘Visiting Every Station On The Quaintest Rural Line In The Greater Tokyo Area’
Click here to read ‘Tokyo Daytripper: Top 10 Chiba Sights’
Click here to read ‘Fishermen Getting Caught Up In Their Work!’
Click here to read ‘Celebrate The Year Of The Rabbit By Visiting This Shrine Just North of Tokyo Which Is Devoted To Those Fluffy Bunnies’
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