Nagoya Shrines: Atsuta Shrine
Atsuta Shrine 熱田神宮
The main shrine building at Atsuta Shrine in Atsuta-ku, Nagoya
Atsuta Shrine is an important shrine in Japanese history as it is believed to date from the 1st century. The presiding shrine deity is Atsuta-no-Ohkami.
Atsuta Shrine (lit. "Hot Field Shrine") is considered one of the most prestigious shrines in Japan as it houses the kusanagi-no-tsurugi ("Grass-Mowing Sword"), a sacred sword which is one of the three sacred Imperial regalia, the others being the mirror at the Ise Jingu shrines and the jewels at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Most likely the sword is a copy, as the original was lost in the sea battle of Dan-no-ura in 1185 off the coast of Shimonoseki.
Ema votive plaques at Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya
Atsuta Shrine is Nagoya's number one must-visit shrine at New Year time and is also a popular venue for shichi-go-san festivals. Shichi-go-san, literally 'seven-five-three', is a celebration held on November 15 for when a girl turns 3 or 7 and when a boy turns 5.
Atsuta Jingu is said to visited by around 8-9 million people per year. The shrine was bombed in World War II and subsequently rebuilt in the 1950s. Atsuta Jingu is seen as a protector of the area's agriculture and the shrine's festivals include an opulent planting ceremony. Throughout the year over 70 festivals are held within the shrine's large precincts with the main festival held on June 5.
Shrine building and sake barrels as offerings at Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya
The shrine grounds include a 1,300 year old giant camphor tree said to be planted by the renowned Buddhist priest Kobou Daishi, a Noh theater, and the Bunka-den treasure storehouse museum full of over 4,000 important cultural assets, especially swords. (The museum is open 9am-4.30pm, closed last Wed and Thu of every month. Closed Dec 25-31. No admission after 4.10pm).
You may also see some chickens wandering the grounds, their significance is unclear. They may have been used as offerings for ceremonies but also you will hear because the torii is based on a bird perch, because cocks announce the arrival of the sun (Amaterasu is the Sun Goddess) and the the same reason anyone keeps chickens, for eggs.
Ema votive plaques at Atsuta Shrine, Nagoya
The spacious grounds of Atsuta Shrine are well-wooded with narrow streams running through them. This large space is a lovely place to stroll and appreciate the undoubted spritual atmosphere that exists at this ancient shrine.
There are a number of less-visited, sub-shrines in the complex which are particularly pleasant to linger in. Look out for the many ema or votive plaques where worshipers make a wish to the gods on a small wooden board.
Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya is one of the most prestigious shrines in Japan as it is believed to contain one of the three sacred Imperial regalia
Sacred tree and shimenawa rope with chicken at Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya
Atsutajingu-Kyu-Cho (Shrine Office)
Tel: 052 671 4151
Sake barrels at Atsuta Shrine, Nagoya's most important Shinto site
Atsuta Jingu is 8 minutes walk from Jingu Nishi on the Meijo Line of the Nagoya subway, also 8 minutes walk from JR Atsuta (Tokaido Honsen line) or 5 minutes from Meitetsu Jingumae Station, which is 8 minutes from Nagoya Station by Meitetsu Limited Express train.
If you are connecting from Jingumae Station to Jingu Nishi walk through the shrine. West of Atsuta Jingu are the Nagoya Congress Center (venue of the COP 10 conference), Nagoya Gakuin University and Shirotori Park.
Atsuta Shrine has a number of smaller sub-shrines
A number of small streams run through the grounds of Atsuta Shrine
Atsuta Shrine Map
View Nagoya & Gifu Map - Aichi & Gifu Prefectures in a larger map