Kanda Myojin Shrine – a Shrine of Samurai Rebels, Prosperity and Festivals
Close to the Imperial Palace, Kanda Shrine is home to one of Tokyo's big 3 Shinto festivals and as one of the city's oldest, it has a long and fascinating history.
Kanda Myojin Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Tokyo’s Kanda district, close to the Imperial Palace. Constructed in 746 in Otemachi, the shrine was moved to Kanda-dai in 1603 and to its current site in 1616. As one of the city’s first, the Tokugawa Shogunate paid particular respect to this shrine, which was also made use of by the samurai class and ordinary Edo citizens alike.
Three ‘kami’ (god) are enshrined at Kanda Myojin: Daikokuten, Ebisu and Taira no Masakado. Daikokuten and Ebisu are both gods of fortune, making it a popular place for people to pray for wealth and prosperity. Out of respect for his noble defiance, locals enshrined Masakado – a samurai rebel against the Heian government – at the shrine, elevating him to the level of a god.
Kanda Shrine Overview
Zuishin-mon, the shrine’s main gate, makes for a formidable entranceway befitting a shrine of such importance. Beyond, find a medium-sized temple complex surrounded by a further 9 shrines. The shrine is notable for its high volume of Torri gates within the grounds, including a rare example of a green Torri. Also find statues and monuments to patrons and deities, including the aforementioned Masakado and Zenigata Heiji, a fictional policeman who’s beat was said to be “beneath the Kanda Shrine.”
The shrine is well kept and calm, despite its proximity to the crowded Kanda and Akihabara.
It is also popular among anime and tech fans (from nearby Akihabara) who use the shrine to bless gadgets against harm and leave their mark by decorating “ema” (small wooden plaques usually inscribed with wishes and hopes) with anime-style designs and motifs.
Kanda Matsuri (Festival)
Kanda Matsuri is one of three major Tokyo Shinto festivals celebrated in mid-May, nationally recognized for its grandeur and popularity. The festival takes place in odd-numbered years, filling the shrine and surrounding area with life.
On Saturday, an enormous collection of floats, musicians, performers and Shinto priests on horseback parade down the streets, flanked by traditionally dressed locals and curious visitors both. On Sunday, over 200 portable shrines (mikoshi) appear to float down the streets on a sea of people. A spectacle that has to be seen to be believed.
Dating back to the early 17th century, Kanda Matsuri began in celebration of the famous victory at the battle of Sekigahara. A feat that eventually led to the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
Address: 2-16-2 Sotokanda, Chiyoda, Tokyohone: 03-3254-0753
Telephone: +81 03-3254-0753
Access to Kanda Shrine
Access: Tokyu Metro Marunouchi Line to Ochanomizu Station (plus a 5-minute walk)
Open 24/7, all year round.