This blog post will introduce Hikan Inari Shrine (被官稲荷神社) in Asakusa of Tokyo.
Hikan Inari Shrine is a small Shinto shrine in Taito Ward of Tokyo. This shrine is a subordinate shrine of Asakusa Shrine (浅草神社). As Hikan Inari Shrine is in the backyard of Asakusa Shrine, you may not be aware of it when you visit this shrine for the first time.
Hikan Inari Shrine enshrines Inari (稲荷神), a Shinto goddess of agriculture. Her blessings include good harvests, business success, household safety, performance art improvement, etc.
Tatsugoro Shinmon (新門辰五郎), a boss of the fire brigade in Asakusa, built Hikan Inari Shrine in 1855. When his wife got a severe illness, he prayed at Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷神社) in Kyoto for her recovery. After his wife’s recovery, Tatsugoro built a small Shinto shrine in Asakusa to express his gratitude to the Inari god.
At Hikan Inari Shrine, prayers dedicate a pair of tiny fox dolls named O-Sugata (お姿) or Teppo Kitsune (鉄砲狐). You will be surprised to see many fox dolls devoted when you visit this shrine.
This blog post is also available in Japanese. You can refer to it at the following link:
- An Enshrined Goddess and Her Blessings
- Other Useful Information
According to Hikan Inari Shrine, its history dates back to the 19th century.
At that time, there was a man named Tatsugoro Shinmon, a boss of the fire brigade in Asakusa.
In 1854, Tatsugoro’s wife got a severe illness. He prayed at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto for his wife. This shrine is the head of Shinto shrines that enshrine Inari.
As Tatsugoro’s wife recovered from her illness, he wanted to express his gratitude to Fushimi Inari Shrine. So he built a small shrine that enshrines Inari in Asakusa in 1855.
This is the beginning of Hikan Inari Shrine.
An Enshrined Goddess and Her Blessings
Uka no Mitama no Mikoto (倉稲魂命)
Hikan Inari Shrine enshrines Uka no Mitama no Mikoto, also known as Inari.
Each Shinto god (or goddess) often has several aliases in Japan. For example, Uka no Mitama no Mikoto also has other names such as Inari Okami (稲荷大神) and Ukemochi no Kami (宇気母智神) in addition to Inari.
Uka no Mitama no Mikoto is a Shinto goddess of grain, agriculture, industry, etc. Her blessings include good harvests, business successes, household safety, performance art improvements, etc.
The Main Building
The main building of Hikan Inari Shrine is a very tiny building with an architectural style called Ikkensha-Nagare-Zukuri (一間社流造). This architectural style features two pillars in the front and a beautifully curved roof that extends toward you.
This main building has remained since it was first built in 1855. It is a precious building as it even survived the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and the Bombing of Tokyo in 1945.
The Teppo Kitsune (Fox Dolls)
Note: We believe that foxes are divine messengers of Inari in Japan.
The Teppo Kitsune (鉄砲きつね) is a tiny fox doll of Imado Ware (今戸焼). The Teppo Kitsune is a pair of male and female foxes, and each has a different facial expression. Especially at Hikan Inari Shrine, the Teppo Kitsune is called the O-Sugata (お姿), describing the divine messenger.
On the left side of the main building of Hikan Inari Shrine, there is a small building for the O-Sugata. When your prayer has been answered at this shrine, you place the O-Sugata. You will be impressed by seeing many O-Sugata dedicated to the shrine.
You can purchase a brace of the O-Sugata for 1,500 Yen at the shrine office of Asakusa Shrine. Once you buy a pair of the O-Sugata, you take them home. Then, you bring them to Hikan Inari Shrine for dedication after your wish is fulfilled. But, of course, you can dedicate them immediately after purchase.
For your reference, the Imado Ware doll is a local toy that originated in the Imado district of Asakusa and the Sumida River basin. The Imado Ware dolls were popular among ordinary people during the Edo period. But the Imado Ware has ceased after World War II. Some people have been trying to revive the Imado Ware in recent years.
By the way, Kumano Shrine in Katsushika Ward of Tokyo also has the same custom of devoting the Teppo Kitsune. For more detail on Kumano Shrine, please refer to the following blog post:
The Koma Kitsune (Fox Statues)
Hikan Inari Shrine enshrines Inari. And her divine messengers are foxes. For this reason, many Koma Kitsune, stone statues of foxes, guard this shrine.
The Koma Kitsune at Hikan Inari Shrine is very different. You can see mother-and-child foxes. You also can find one with Jutte, a specialized weapon used by police during the Edo period. Kabuki actors dedicated many of such Koma Kitsune.
The Asakusa district, where Hikan Inari Shrine is located, has long been famous for Kabuki and performance arts. And one of the blessings of Inari is performance art improvements. Therefore, Kabuki actors and entertainers worship Hikan Inari Shrine.
By the way, you can find cute foxes at Torii Gates of Hikan Inari Shrine. Don’t miss them when you visit this shrine.
Fox Ema Votive Tablets
Ema (絵馬) are small wooden tablets or plaques that worshippers write their prayers. Unlike ema of many other shrines, the ema of Hikan Inari Shrine is fan-shaped. It also is in bright yellow with a cure fox’s face on it. This ema reminds me of Pikachu from Pokemon smiling. There are many ema dedicated to the precincts, so be sure to check them out as well. If you have the opportunity, we also recommend you with dedicating one.
Other Useful Information
Opening Hours (Asakusa Shrine)
- From 09:00 to 16:00
- Asakusa 2-31-16, Taito-Ku, Tokyo 111-0032
Public Transport (Train)
- 7 minutes on foot from Asakusa Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line
- 7 minutes on foot from Asakusa Station on the Toei Subway Asakusa Line
- 7 minutes on foot from Asakusa Station on the Tobu Isesaki Line
- 10 minutes on foot from Asakusa Station on the Tsukuba Express Line
Public Transport (Megurin Bus)
- 2 minutes on foot from #22 Sensoji Kita Stop on Megurin North Route (via Asakusa)
- 2 minutes on foot from #23 Nitenmon Stop on Megurin North Route (via Asakusa)
- 7 minutes on foot from #31 Kaminarimon Dori Stop on Megurin East-West Route (via Ueno Park)
- 7 minutes on foot from #31 Kaminarimon Dori Stop on Megurin East-West Route (via Uguisudani Station)
Megurin Bus is a community bus service operated by Taito Ward of Tokyo. This bus is a good option for trying a non-touristic experience while you are in Tokyo. For more details on Megurin Bus, please refer to the following:
Public Restroom Availability
- No. But you can find some in the precincts of Sensoji Temple adjacent to Hikan Inari Shrine.