Highlight: The Salvation God for Women at Sensoji Temple

Awashimado Hall at Sensoji Temple Highlights
Awashimado Hall at Sensoji Temple

The highlights category of our blog will cover must-visit spots in the Shitamachi district of Tokyo. This blog post will feature Awashima-Do Hall at Sensoji Temple in Taito Ward of Tokyo.

Sensoji Temple in Taito Ward is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo. The principal image of this temple is Sho-Kanzeon-Bosatsu, but this temple also enshrines many other gods.

The salvation god for women is one of the many deities that Sensoji Temple enshrines. That is Awashima Myojin at Awashima-Do Hall. The divine virtues of this god include healing of women’s diseases, pregnancy, safe delivery, and matchmaking.

This blog post will share information about Awashima Myojin and Awashima-Do Hall at Sensoji Temple. Please use it as a reference when you come to Tokyo.

We hope this blog post will help you somewhat when you visit Tokyo for sightseeing. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us through the contact form.

This blog post is also available in Japanese. You can refer to it at the following link:

Awashima Myojin, Who Is It?

Awashima Myojin is one of the gods that Awashima Shrine in Kada, Wakayama Prefecture, enshrines. Awashima Myojin is also known as Awashima-no-Kami.

Awashima Shrine enshrines the following three gods:

  • Sukunahikona
  • Onamuji (AKA. Okuninushi)
  • Akinagatarashihime

There are various theories, but Awashima Shrine claims that Awashima Myojin is Sukunahikona. Sukunahikona is originally the god of medicine, and his divine virtues are especially for women.

The divine virtues of Awashima Myojin include:

  • healing of women’s disorders
  • pregnancy
  • smooth delivery
  • matchimaking
  • improvement of sewing skills
  • etc.

In the middle of the Edo period (from the 17th century to the 19th century), people called Awashima Gannin traveled around the country preaching the divine virtues of Awashima Myojin. As a result, Awashima Shinko (Awashima Faith), worshiping Awashima Myojin, became popular throughout the country.

Awashima Myojin was popular with women because of its divine virtues. In particular, women working at Yukaku (red-light districts) had deep faith in this god.

Awashima Myojin, Where Is It?

Awashima-Do Hall is located in the northwest, on the precincts of Sensoji Temple. This hall is near Yogo-Do Hall and Zenizuka-Jizo-Do Hall of the temple.

According to Sensoji Temple, the history of Awashimado Hall dates to the 17th century.

During the Genroku era (1688–1704), Sensoji Temple transferred the split spirit of Awashima Myojin from Awashima Shrine in Kada of Wakayama Prefecture (Kii Province in old-days). This ritual is called Kanjo.

There are several possible reasons why Sensoji Temple transferred  the split spirit of Awashima Myojin:

  • Awashima Myojin was popular nationwide at that time.
  •  Women in Yukaku, or red-light districts, had a lot of faith in Awashima Myojin.
  • Shin-Yoshiwara, Japan’s largest red-light district, was located near Sensoji Temple.

In 1945, the Bombing of Tokyo burned Sensoji Temple’s main hall. For this reason, Sensoji Temple temporarily used Awashima-Do Hall as its main hall until 1955.

Awashimado Hall now enshrines the following gods.

  • Awashima Myojin: the salvation god for women
  • Amida Nyorai: the salvation Buddha
  • Kokuzo Bosatsu: the wisdom Buddha
  • Toriko Jizo Bosatsu: Unknown

Hari-Kuyo

One of the divine virtues of Awashima Myojin is the “improvement of sewing skills.” In connection with this, Awashima-Do Hall holds a memorial service for the needles, called Hari-Kuyo, at 10 a.m. on February 8th every year.

The memorial service for needles takes care of needles, such as rusted or broken ones. And this memorial service is a good opportunity to thank the needles that you use daily.

Note

You can enter the precincts of Sensoji Temple anytime. But Awashima-Do Hall only opens at the following times:

  • Summer Time (April to September): 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Winter Time (October to March): 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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