Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine Tokyo 富岡八幡宮
Tomioka Hachimangu is a large Shinto shrine in the Fukagawa district of Koto ward, Tokyo, right next to the famous Fukagawa Fudoson Buddhist temple.
The grounds of Tomioka Hachiman-gu are wooded, and are teeming with birdlife and bird song.
Behind the main shrine building, to your left if you are coming from Fukagawa Fudoson temple, are a line of three small shrines that look like little log cabins.
Called Otori Jinja (Otori Shrine) you are likely to see supplicants bowing and praying before each shrine in turn.
History of Tomioka Hachiman
Tomioka Hachiman-gu, founded in 1627, is Tokyo's largest Hachiman shrine.
Tomioka Hachiman-gu began with the worship of the god Hachiman, the god of martial arts and war, when a Kyoto noble enshrined a statue of the deity on nearby Eitai-jima Island. (Believe it or not, this shrine used to face the sea, but subsequent successive land filling has made it well and truly landlocked.)
By 1651, Tomioka Hachiman-gu had become the merchant shrine of the area. Subsequent and repeated fires mean that it has been rebuilt many times.
Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine is intimately connected to the history of sumo in Japan, and was where sumo tournaments were first held, from the late 17th century. There are several monuments to sumo on the shrine grounds that speak to its sumo-related history.
Traffic Safety Ritual
One of the shrine's main services for the general public is Shinto traffic safety rituals, like those of the the (Buddhist) Fukagawa Fudoson.
While not as popular and thronged as Fukagawa Fudoson on a daily basis, here, too, you may see a robed priest performing a safety ritual over a car.
(Watch a short video of a Shinto car blessing ceremony.)
However, visit the shrine on the 1st, 15th, or 28th of the month when a boistrous flea-market-cum-festival take place on the shrine grounds.
The Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri Festival
The Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri, the shrine's big festival, is one of Tokyo's major festivals and takes place in mid-August, but only once every three years: 2017, 2020, 2023 etc. 120 o-mikoshi (portable shrines) from each neighborhood are borne through the streets, 54 of which are paraded in the main festival event.
The Fukagawa Hachiman festival also goes by the name of Mizukake Matsuri (Waterpouring Festival) thanks to its unique feature whereby spectators pour cascades of sacred water - literally by the bucket - over the shrine bearers, roasting under the mid-summer sun.
Walk out towards the main gate of the shrine, and on your right you will see a building housing the two massive, intricately wrought festival floats that are brought out for the Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri festival.
The larger of the two, known as 'Ichi-no-miya' weighs no less than 4.5 tonnes (c.4.9 US tons), and among its lavish, mainly gold, decorations are included diamonds, rubies and sapphires. The biggest in the Kanto region (some say Japan), it is said to be valued at over 1 billion yen (i.e. over USD8 million).
Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine is
- 320 m from Monzennakachō Station on the Tozai Subway Line (T12) and the Oedo Subway Line (E15)
- 700 m from Kiba Station on the Tozai Subway Line (T13)
- 800 m from Etchūjima Station on the Keiyo Line
1-20-3 Tomioka, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-0047