Otahime Inari Shrine

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Do you know about Japanese shrines? Otahime Inari Shrine is dedicated to Otahime-no-Mikoto. 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!

Otahime Inari Shrine


When I turned diagonally down a narrow alley from the Surugadai-shita intersection on the way to Ochanomizu Station in Tokyo, I found a neat-looking shrine in the midst of large buildings of universities and companies. Its name is Otahime Inari Shrine, and it seems to be a local Chinju (local Shinto shrine). It seemed to blend in with the local community as people kept coming out of nowhere to pay their respects.

As I was interested in the origin noted on the explanatory board, I looked up the shrine’s history. They are briefly introduced below.

In 839, during the Heian era (794-1185), the noble Ono no Takamura (a descendant of Ono no Imoko, a Japanese envoy to Sui Dynasty China) received an oracle from a white-haired old man named Ota Hime no Mikoto at the sea in Hoki no Kuni (present-day central western Tottori Prefecture) that he should worship him to protect himself from the smallpox. Later, he built and dedicated a shrine in the village of Imoarai in Yamashiro Province (in the southern part of Kyoto Prefecture).

During the Muromachi era (1333-1573), the smallpox epidemic spread throughout the Kanto region, and the princess of Ota Dokan (a feudal lord of the Tokugawa shogunate) also became ill. Dokan heard of the miracle of Imoarai Inari and sent an envoy to Yamashiro Province to pray for the princess’s recovery, and the princess’s illness was completely cured. Since then, Dokan and his princess have deeply worshipped Imoarai Inari, which was recommended in the Edo Castle’s Honmaru.

One day in 1457, this deity revealed himself as a white fox, and decreed, “I shall guard the devil’s gate of this castle.” The shrine was relocated to the devil’s gate and became known as Ota Hime Inari Daimyojin.

When Ieyasu Tokugawa entered Edo, he moved the shrine to the present Nishiki-cho 1-chome.

In 1606, with the expansion of Edo Castle, the shrine was moved to the foot of the present Hijiribashi Bridge. After that, the shrine is said to have been repaired and built by the Tokugawa family.

After the Meiji Restoration, in 1872, the shrine was listed as a village shrine and its name was changed to Otahime Inari Shrine, and it became the guardian deity of Nishiki-cho 1-chome, part of Ogawamachi 2-chome, and the entire Surugadai area.

In 1931, the shrine grounds were confiscated for the construction of the Sobu Line, and the shrine was moved to its present location, Kanda Surugadai, Chiyoda Ward, in its original form.

Otahime Inari Shrine was a shrine dedicated to the deity who saved people from smallpox about 600 years ago. In the present day of the Corona disaster, it is likely that many people have come to the shrine to pray for an end to the situation. I can’t help but pray that everyone’s prayers will be answered and that the world will soon return to the calm and peaceful state it was before.

Motomiya of Otahime Inari Shrine
Motomiya of Otahime Inari Shrine
Motomiya of Otahime Inari Shrine

Cross Hongo Dori from the Hijiribashi exit of the JR Ochanomizu Station toward Awajizaka and you will see a large muku tree towering over the street. Here was the former site of the shrine. Even today, a brief history of the shrine is tied to the muku tree, and visitors can take home a “Cold cough suppressant charm.”