This article is also available in Japanese (日本語). You can refer to it from here.
Shitaya Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Ueno, Taito Ward of Tokyo. This shrine is the oldest Inari shrine with about 1,300 years of history. In the old days, people said, “Shinto festivals of the summer in Edo (old name of Tokyo) start from Shitaya.” Shitaya Shrine is famous for its annual festival, which is the earliest summer Shinto festival in Tokyo.
This article contains helpful information for you to visit Shitaya Shrine. All the data is worth knowing, including its history, highlights, enshrined Shinto gods, and access methods. Just reading this article will make this temple more interesting to you.
- Enshrined Gods and Their Blessings
- Other Useful Information
The history of Shitaya Shrine dates back to the eighth century. The shrine began with Haketa Inagi enshrining Otoshi-no-Kami and Yamato-Takeru-no-Mikoto in Ueno Shinobigaoka (now Ueno park.) Since then, this shrine has gained faith from local people as a shrine represents Shitamachi of Tokyo.
The outline of the history of Shitaya Shrine is as follows:
Haketa Inagi built Shitaya Inari Shrine in Ueno Shinobigaoka of Tokyo. Shoboin Temple of the Tendai sect managed it.
Fujiwara no Hidesato prayed at Shitaya Inari Shrine for his victory against Taira no Masakado. After winning the war, Fujiwara no Hidesato constructed a new shrine building.
Shitaya Inari Shrine relocated to Ueno Yamashita (now around Iwakura High School) because the Edo Shogunate built Kaneiji Temple in Ueno Shinobigaoka.
Shitaya Inari Shrine relocated to the south side of Kotokuji-Temple-Mae-Dori avenue in Shitaya by exchanging the precincts with Tenganji Temple in Yanaka.
Shitaya Inari Shrine became independent from Shoboin Temple by the Shinbutsu Bunri decree.
Shitaya Inari Shrine changed its name to Shitaya Shrine.
The Great Kanto earthquake burnt Shitaya Shrine.
Shitaya Shrine relocated to the current location as a part of town readjustment projects.
Local people rebuilt the current Shrine building of Shitaya Shrine.
Enshrined Gods and Their Blessings
Otoshi no Kami (大年神)
- Other names: Toshigami (年神), Toshigami (歳神), Toshitokujin (歳徳神), etc.
- Divinity: A Shinto god of grain, agriculture, etc.
- Blessings: Huge harvest, prosperous business, household safety, industrial prosperity, etc.
- Note: This is the main enshrined god of the shrine.
Yamato Takeru no Mikoto (日本武尊)
- Other names: Yamato Takeru no mikoto (倭建命), Ousu no mikoto (小碓命), etc.
- Divinity: A Shinto god of war, agriculture, etc.
- Blessings: National peace, huge harvest, prosperous business, successful career, good fortune, calamity prevention, etc.
- Note: This is the subsidiary enshrined god of the shrine.
Uga no Mitama no Mikoto (宇賀魂命)
- Other names: Inari no kami (稲荷神), Uka no mitama no kami (宇迦之御魂神), Uka no mitama no mikoto (倉稲魂命), etc.
- Divinity: A Shinto goddess of grain, agriculture, etc.
- Blessings: Huge harvest, prosperous business, household safety, industrial prosperity, traffic safety, performing arts improvement, etc.
- Note: This goddess is enshrined at Ryuei Inari Shrine, the subordinate shrine.
The Primary Torii Gate
When you walk along Asakusa-Dori Avenue from Inaricho Station to Ueno Station, you will notice the gigantic Primary Torii Gate of Shitaya Shrine. It stands stepping over a road, and cars even can pass through between the legs. Therefore, even if you visit the shrine for the first time, you will never miss where the shrine is.
This huge Torii Gate was built in 1933. Due to deterioration over time, it was repaired in 2018. The shrine name on the Shingaku, the nameplate attached to the top of the gate, was by Togo Heihachiro.
Ryuei Inari Shrine
Ryuei Inari Shrine is a subordinate Shinto shrine located on the left side of the worship hall. And it enshrines Uka-no-Mitama, also known as O-Inari-san. This goddess is a younger sister of Otoshi-no-Kami, the main enshrined god of Shitaya Shrine.
Like other Inari shrines, Ryuei Inari Shrine has many torii gates in its precincts. You also will notice many stone statues of foxes, statues divine messengers of Inari. They have various facial expressions, and just looking at them will make you feel smile.
Ryusei Inari Shrine was built to protect Shitaya Shrine and its precincts. As this shrine survived the fire caused by the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, local people worship this shrine as the goddess of fire protection.
Shitaya Shrine welcomes its worshippers with Hana-chozu. Hana-chozu refers to a traditional practice to float colorful flowers on the water of the Chozu-bachi, a purification fountain of a shrine. The shrine uses various beautiful flowers for each season; you may want to take a picture or two of it.
The Painting on the Ceilling
On the ceiling of the worship hall, you will see a magnificent Japanese painting of a dragon. Taikan Yokoyama, a master of Japanese painting, drew and donated it to the shrine in 1934. Don’t forget to get permission at the shrine office before you enjoy this painting.
The Annual Summer Festival
Shitaya Shrine hosts an annual festival, called Shitaya Jinja Taisai (The grat festival of Shitaya Shrine), in early May every year. This Shinto festival has more than 1,000 years of history.
This annual festival is the earliest summer festival in Tokyo. And Sanja Festival of Asakusa Shrine and Kanda Festival of Kanda Shrine follow it. We have an old saying, “Shinto festivals of the summer in Edo (old name of Tokyo) start from Shitaya.”
Shitaya Shrine had to cancel this annual festival in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the shrine hosted it this year at a significantly reduced scale. It’s so pity as this festival usually expects 7,000 participants.
The Eight Lucky Gods of Tokyo Shitamachi (Peace and Harmonization)
Shitaya Shrine is one of the Eight Lucky Gods of Tokyo Shitamachi. The Eight Lucky Gods of Tokyo Shitamachi refers to eight Shinto shrines in Chuo Ward and Taito Ward of Tokyo. Each shrine brings you a different benefit when you warship them. You can expect blessings about peace and harmonization from Shitaya Shrine.
The concept of the Eight Lucky Gods of Tokyo Shitamachi was introduced in 1981 as a part of the regional revitalization projects of Tokyo. You can enjoy historic sites and feel the atmosphere of the Shitamachi area of Tokyo while you are making your pilgrimage.
For more information about the Eight Lucky Gods of Tokyo Shitamachi, please refer to the following article:
Other Useful Information
- From 09:00 to 16:00
- Higashi-Ueno 3-29-8, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0015
Public Transport (Train)
- 6 minutes on foot from Ueno Station on the JR Line.
- 5 minutes on foot from #1 exit of Ueno Station on the Ginza Line.
- 5 minutes on foot from #1 exit of Ueno Station on the Hibiya Line.
- 2 minutes on foot from Inaricho Station on the Ginza Line.
- 5 minutes on foot from A1 exit of Shin-Okachimachi Station on the Oedo Line.
- 5 minutes on foot from A1 exit of Shin-Okachimachi Station on the Tsukuba Express Line.
Public Transport (Bus)
- 2 minutes on foot from Shitaya Jinja Mae Stop on the Toei Bus (Route 上 46, 上 23, and 草 39.)
- 5 minutes on foot from Taito City Hall Stop on the Taito Circular Bus (Route South-Megurin and Gururi-Megurin)
- 3 minutes on foot from Eiju Genral Hospital East Stop on the Taito Circular Bus (Route East-West-Megurin and Gururi-Megurin)
Public Restroom Availability