Introduction
History of Kanda Myojin Shrine
Sights to see at Kanda Myojin Shrine
Events
Access
Nearby

Kanda Myojin Shrine has been historically revered by Tokyo's residents as the "guardian deity of Edo". Contrasting the nearby electric neighborhood of Akihabara, Kanda Myojin is a tranquil sanctuary of a shrine. Over its history dawning over 1,300 years ago, Kanda Myojin Shrine has seen the worship of many samurai warriors and daimyo warlords. The breathtaking vermillion architecture is a symbol of this shrine, which survived both the Great Kanto Earthquake and Tokyo Air Raids.
Let's look into the history of Kanda Myojin, and what has made it so special over its millennium of history!

History of Kanda Myojin Shrine

Beginnings of Kanda Myojin Shrine

In 730, Makan Daomi constructed the original Kanda Myojin in the current Chiyoda Ward. According to legend, Makan Daomi, is said to be an ancestor of Onamuchi no Mikoto, the god of matchmaking. During the Warring Period (c. 1467 - 1603), distinguished warriors such as Ota Dokan, Hojo Ujitsuna and eventually even Tokugawa Ieyasu worshipped Kanda Myojin. In particular, Tokugawa Ieyasu came to heavily worship this temple after winning the Battle of Sekigahara, where he secured his shogun position. The day of his victory coincidentally landed on the day of the Kanda Festival, leading Tokugawa to believe the shrine was his source of luck.

Kanda Myojin Shrine during the Edo period (1603 - 1867)

The Tokugawa Clan, following Ieyasu, worked to expand the shrine grounds and to magnify the scale of the Kanda Festival. In 1616, Kanda Myojin relocated to its current location, which used to be the location of the superstitiously unlucky northeastern gate of the Edo Castle. The shrine became revered and worshipped by commoners as well, as they referred to it as the “Guardian of Edo” (江戸総鎮守). The Kanda Festival became an Edo-wide event during this time, with two mikoshi (portable shrine) carried all around and into the Edo Castle, and many parade floats roaming the city too.

Post-Edo catastrophes

Entering the Meiji Era, Kanda Myojin became designated as one of the twelve main shrines of Tokyo (Junchoku-jinja; 準勅神社) and as one of Tokyo’s most influential shrines (Tokyo-fusha; 東京府社). With Emperor Meiji paying his first visit to the shrine in 1874, Kanda Myojin flourished now as the “Guardian of Tokyo”.

The following years were met with calamity, as the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 caused the main hall to completely burn down. With donations from all over Tokyo, the main hall was rebuilt in 1934 with a steel frame and reinforced concrete structure, assuring its survival for any upcoming disasters. This is also when Kanda Myojin’s main hall transformed into its iconic vermillion façade.

Although other buildings on the shrine premises burned down due to the Tokyo Air Raids during World War II, the main hall survived due to its sturdy new build. New buildings, such as the Wedding Hall, rose after the war.

Kanda Myojin Shrine Today

As Japan entered the Heisei Period in 1989, Kanda Myojin underwent a turn-of-the-era renovation and reconstruction project. The main hall was re-painted and repaired here and there, and new buildings like the Kanda Myojin Museum were constructed.

Sights to see at Kanda Myojin Shrine

Main Shrine Hall


The Main Hall, or honden, of Kanda Myojin

The brilliant vermillion structure is the Main Hall, established in 1934 after the Great Kanto Earthquake completely destroyed the original building. The main hall combines the hall of offerings, prayer hall, special preparation kitchen and treasure storage into one massive building. The prayer hall, unlike many built during the time, stands partially directly on the ground, so people can pray while keeping their shoes on (as shoes are strictly forbidden when entering). In 2003, on the year of the 400th anniversary of the Edo Period’s opening, the main hall was designated as a National Tangible Cultural Heritage.

Zuishin-mon


Zuishin-mon
The gate located in the beginning of Kanda Myojin is called the Zuishin-mon. Built in 1975, this gate commemorates the 50th anniversary of Emperor Showa’s enthronement. Carvings of gods and depictions of Japanese legends wrap the entirety of the gate. Two gods guard the entrance, protecting the shrine grounds.

Kanda Myojin Museum


Mikoshi during Kanda-sai
Opened in 1998, the Kanda Myojin Museum celebrates the grand Kanda Festival and its historical significance. On the second floor are documents related to the festival and a mini-model of the festival’s mikoshi and dashi. The third floor is a treasure storage exhibiting rare items connecting to the festival. Each floor displays nishiki-e, a woodblock printing style artwork, all the way back from the Edo period.

Hours: Saturdays, Sundays and National Holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Fees: ¥300 for adults, ¥200 for children and students.

Statues and gods

Kanda Myojin shrine worships three gods, with statues for two of them.

Ebisu-sama Statue


Ebisu-sama Statue

One of the three gods worshipped at Kanda Myojin, Ebisu-sama, specializes in business prosperity. Aside from helping businesses prosper, Ebisu-sama also is the god of choice for health and overall luck enhancing. According to legend, Ebisu-sama and Daikoku sama created the land of Japan together.

Daikoku-sama Statue


Daikoku-sama Statue
Onamuchi no Mikoto, or more commonly known as Daikoku-sama, is the god of matchmaking. Legend says Daikoku-sama, along with Ebisu-sama (the god of business prosperity) created Japan,

Taira no Masakado

The third god enshrined at Kanda Myojin does not have a statue, but is just as significant. A warrior-turned-god, Masakado-sama serves as the god of disaster prevention. During the Heian Period (794 – 1185), Taira no Masakado fought for commoners against the central government, which gained him respect from commoners and eventually earned himself the deity title.

Special souvenirs

The omamori (お守り), or talisman, sold at Kanda Myojin possesses a unique charm. In coordination with Akihabara’s electric theme, Kanda Myojin provides omamori for “IT protection” (IT情報安全守護). This omamori visually represents a microchip, and offers protection from any IT related misfortunes – such as computer viruses and sudden shutdowns. The omamori is sold for ¥1000 within the shrine grounds.

Events

Kanda Festival - 神田祭 (May)

The Kanda Festival prides itself as one Tokyo’s “Three Top Festivals”. Originating in the 17th century, the Kanda Festival magnified its celebration after Tokugawa’s victory at the Battle of Sekigahara, where Tokugawa was able to secure his clan’s rule as shogun for the upcoming centuries. The main event is Shinkosai (神幸祭), and this is when the three mikoshi, one for each god worshipped at Kanda Myojin, are carried throughout old town Tokyo. Shinkosai lasts only for one day, but over 300,000 visitors gather for a sight of this extravaganza. The whole festival lasts for about one week in mid May.

Summer Festival - 神田明神納涼祭り (Aug.)

The Summer Festival in mid August is one of Kanda Myojin’s newest events. The festival features bon-odori dancing and a food and beer fair.

Daikoku Festival - だいこく祭り (Jan.)

Daikoku-sama, the main god enshrined at Kanda-Myojin, is celebrated during Daikoku Festival. Two priests, one dressed as Daikoku-sama and the other as Ebisu-sama, shake their kozuchi (small mallet like instrument) above each participant’s head for good luck in matchmaking and family affairs. Another event during Daikoku Festival is the Kanchu Misogi, a purification tradition held by the shrine annually. By bathing in ice cold water only wearing fundoshi (traditional underwear for men) or shiroshozoku (traditional white garment for women), participants purify their body and souls. This festival takes place in mid January.

Access to Kanda Myojin Shrine

Nearest station: Ochanomizu Station (JR Lines JC03/JB18, Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line M20)

From Shinjuku Station

【Shinjuku Sta.】JR Chuo Line Rapid Servie / for Tokyo
→【JR Ochanomizu Sta.】from the Hijiribashi exit → about a 5-minute walk

From Tokyo Station

【Tokyo Sta.】JR Chuo Line Rapid Service / for Ome or Takao
→【JR Ochanomizu Sta.】from the Hijiribashi exit → about a 5-minute walk

From Narita Airport

【Narita Airport Sta.】Skyliner / for Keisei Ueno
→【Nippori Sta.】JR Yamanote Line / for Ueno
→【JR Ochanomizu Sta.】from the Hijiribashi exit → about a 5-minute walk

From Haneda Airport

【Haneda Airport Sta.】Tokyo Monorail / for Hamamatsucho
→【Hamamatsucho Sta.】Keihin Tohoku Line / for Omiya
→【Kanda Sta.】JR Chuo Line Rapid Service / for Ome or Takao
→【JR Ochanomizu Sta.】from the Hijiribashi exit → about a 5-minute walk

Category: Shrine / temple

Kanda Myojin

2-16-2 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
03-3254-0753

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