Torii gate of Kanda Myojin

Japanese Shrine|Beautiful Japanese culture!| Kanda Myojin


Do you know about Japanese shrines? Kanda Myojin has a history of almost 1,300 years, sitting in Edo Tokyo. At 4T-AMKY, Teachers and Students write about Japanese culture, food, history, many spots to visit, and other stuff. Enjoy reading and knowing about deeper Japanese culture!

Kanda Myojin

Main attraction

Kanda Myojin was founded in 730 by Makandaomi, a descendant of the Izumo clan and the deity Ohonamuchi no Mikoto, in present-day Otemachi, in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. In 1616, the shrine was relocated to its current location (Sotokanda, in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo), which was a place to ward off the devil’s gate of Edo Castle, and the shrine was built by the Edo shogunate.

In the Edo era (1603-1867), it was popular as the general guardian of Edo. Even today it is known as the general guardian of 108 town societies, including Kanda, Nihonbashi, Akihabara, Otemachi, Marunouchi, and Tsukiji. In the Meiji era (1868-1912), the shrine’s name was changed from Kanda Myojin to Kanda Shrine.

As you walk through the Torii gate of Kanda Myojin, you will be overwhelmed by the magnificent Zuishinmon Gate in front of you. Zuishinmon Gate was rebuilt in 1975 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Emperor Showa’s accession to the throne. The gate is a two-story structure of total hinoki cypress construction, with a glossy vermilion-lacquered finish.

Zuishinmon Gate at Kanda Myojin
Zuishinmon Gate at Kanda Myojin

In 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake burned down the main hall of the shrine. In 1934, it was reconstructed with a steel-framed concrete structure, all painted in vermilion lacquer, which was innovative at the time. It was so sturdy that it survived the Tokyo Air Raid. In 2003, it was designated as a national tangible cultural property to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Edo.

The large komainu (guardian dogs) in front of the main hall are Showa-era komainu built when the main hall was completed. I was very impressed by the way it welcomed us, facing straight ahead with its back to the main hall. Its appearance also seemed more like a dog than a Shishi, which was unusual and also somehow familiar.

Main hall and Komainu at Kanda Myojin
Main hall and Komainu at Kanda Myojin

And what caught my attention most of all was the Shishiyama (Shishi Mountain) on the right side of the main hall. The explanatory board said it was a stone Shishi. Both the Japanese and English texts were clear and concise, so I have included them here as they are.

Stone Shishi at Kanda Myojin
Stone Shishi at Kanda Myojin

“This stone sculpture is one of the few remaining stone sculptures in Chiyoda City from the Edo Period. It is said it was made by the master stonemason Ishikiri Tobe from Shimotsuke (current-day Tochigi Prefecture) in the Kyoho Era (1716-1735). Records show the associates of a money-exchange shop dedicated a load of stone to Kanda Jinja Shrine in November 1862.

The composition shows 3 stone lions, the parent lions looking at the lion cub pushed down below. Meanwhile, what survived from the Edo Period was the lion couple only, the lion cub and the lion rock being lost in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, but in 1989 it was rebuilt to commemorate the enthronement of His Majesty the Emperor.”

Explanatory board of the stone Shishi
Explanatory board of the stone Shishi

When I once saw the lava Shishi mountain at Hiratsuka Shrine in Kita Ward, I had never seen it before! I was amazed. This stone Shishi was quite tall and very large Shishi mountain. Again, I had never seen it before! I was surprised.