The Togoku Sansha Shrines are three major shrines in the Kanto region – Kashima-jingu Shrine, Katori-jingu Shrine and Ikisu Shrine. You can visit all three in one day, and it is a perfect day-trip idea from Tokyo. Visit these three spiritual power spots and feel rejuvenated from within!
About the Togoku Sansha Shrines
The Togoku Sansha Shrines are Kashima-jingu Shrine (Ibaraki/Chiba), Katori-jingu Shrine (Chiba) and Ikisu Shrine (Ibaraki). It is a tradition to visit all three shrines.
During the Edo Period (1603 – 1868), visiting these three shrines was called 下三宮参り, and people residing north of the Kanto region visited them after completing their Ise-jingu pilgrimage in Mie. Today, visiting the three Togoku Sansha Shrines is said to offer the same amount of blessings as making the Ise-jingu pilgrimage.
History of the Togoku Sansha Shrines
Why are Kashima-jingu, Katori-jingu and Ikisu Shrine considered the Togoku Sansha Shrines? The answer lies in the deities that are enshrined in each shrine.
At Kashima-jingu, Takemikazuchi-no-okami is enshrined, and at Katori-jingu, Futsunushi-no-okami is enshrined. These two deities are said to have been dispatched by the deity Amaterasu-okmikami to ask Okuninushi-no-mikoto to hand over some land.
The deity enshrined in Ikisu Shrine, Kunado-no-kami and Ameno-torifune-no-mikoto, are said to have guided the two previous deities to speak with Okuninushi-no-mikoto.
The Mifune Festival at Kashima-jingu has Ikisu Shrine is a Shinto ritual of bringing a portable shrine through a river via a decorated boat. The first boat to set off is the boat from Ikisu Shrine, and hints at the legend of the three shrines and their deities.
Mifune Festival is held every 12 years. The deity of Kashima-jingu and Katori-jingu are said to meet in the sea during the festival. The festival will be next held in 2026.
Togoku Sansha Shrines and their spiritual powers
The Togoku Sansha Shrines are considered to have an immense amount of spiritual power. Here are some of the reasons why that is said.
The Togoku Sansha Triangle
If you connect the three shrines, they form a triangular shape. It is said that strange events occur in that triangular area.
Kanameishi is a rock that is said to house a huge catfish under it that causes earthquakes. This rock can be found at Kashima-jingu and Katori-jingu.
The rocks are massive, and there is even a rumor that the two rocks are connected underground. It is said that the rock at Kashima-jingu holds down the head of the catfish, while the rock at Katori-jingu holds down the tail of it.
Because of that, Katori-jingu is associated with starting something new, while Katori-jingu is related with decision making and ending things.
The 3 Togoku Sansha Shrines
Here is some information about each of the three Togoku Sansha Shrines.
1. Kashima-jingu Shrine
Kashima-jingu is the oldest shrine in the Kanto region, and is said to have been built over 2,600 years ago. It is the main shrine of the over 600 Kashima shrines in the country.
The shrine is famous as a shrine of victory. It is popular to athletes and people who are looking for triumph.
The ema (wooden wishing plaque) is also famous. It is in the shape of a katana sword, since the shrine’s sword is designated as a national treasure.
Deer at Kashima-jingu
Deers are kept at Kashima-jingu Shrine, since they are considered messengers of the deities.
2. Katori-jingu Shrine
Katori-jingu is also said to have a history of over 2,600 years. It is the main shrine of the over 400 Katori shrines throughout Japan. It is one of the few shrines in Japan that are allowed to be named “jingu”. “Jingu” shrines have a connection with the imperial family
The shrine enshrines Futsunushi-no-okami, and is said to bring luck in victory, travels and avoiding disasters. Along with Kashima-jingu, it is one of the shrines in Kanto that protect the entire region.
The buildings of the shrine are beautifully made. Each season brings about a different atmosphere to the shrine.
3. Ikisu Shrine
Ikisu Shrine locates in southern Ibaraki and is very close to Chiba prefecture. While the the deities enshrined at Kashima-jingu and Katori-jingu are deities of weaponry and battle, the deity of Ikisu Shrine, named Ame-no-torifune, is a deity of transportation.
The gate of Ikisu Shrine faces the ocean. Because of this, Ikisu Shrine is said to bring luck and protection in journeys of the sea and transportation in general.
Before beginning your Togoku Sansha Tour…
Here is some information that might help you before your visit.
Collect the shrines’ goshuin!
Goshuin are stamps and writings offered at temples and shrines as a sign of your visit.
The stamps and writings are done by hand. The name of the shrine, deity and date of visit are written in careful calligraphy.
You can purchase a Goshuin-cho notebook to collect and keep track of your goshuin.
Goshuin is considered a sign of your visit and ties with a shrine or temple. It is even put into the casket of a deceased person if they have a goshuin-cho.
Of course, the three Togoku Sansha shrines have their goshuin. Make sure to bring your own goshuin-cho, or to buy one at any of the three shrines to begin your goshuin collection.
Here are some spots accessible from all three shrines.
The town of Sawara
The town of Sawara
Sawara was a prominent trading port during the Edo Period (1603 – 1867). The Onogawa River runs through the old town, which is designated as a National Cultural Important Preservation District.
The buildings are made in a traditional style, and the streets of the historical town are perfect for getting a taste of Edo Period Japan.
You can also find the former house of Ino Tadataka, a Japanese cartographer who made the first map of Japan.
Sappa Boat is a traditional rowing boat that played a crucial role in Edo period everyday life. You can ride the Sappa Boat to explore the town of Sawara.
Getting to the Togoku Sansha Shrines
The Togoku Sansha Shrines are accessible by car or bus. Ikisu Shrine is the hardest to get to, so starting with either Kashima-jingu or Katori-jingu is recommended.
Togoku Sansha Omamori
For a souvenir, get the Togoku Sansha Omamori (good luck charm)! It is in the shape of a triangular prism, and there are three empty spots where you can place each of the shrine’s original stickers. You can purchase the omamori at any of the three shrines.