Supplicants at Hie Shrine, Akasaka, Tokyo 日枝神社
Hie (hee-eh) Shrine in Akasaka is located just inside Tokyo's Chiyoda ward, next to Minato ward, only a few minutes' walk west of the National Diet Building, the political heart of the nation.
Hie shrine has what is called its Sanno Festival around June 15, and when this photo was taken at the beginning of June the huge nawa (rope) circle in the forecourt for people to make several passes through was a purification lead-up to the Sanno Festival - one of the big three Edo festivals in Tokyo - the other two being the Sanja Festival at Asakusa Shrine and the Kanda Matsuri held every two years in May around Kanda Myojin Shrine.
Hie Shrine is one of the many branches of the Hie Shrine in Shiga prefecture (next to Kyoto prefecture), yet in many ways it is more distinguished than the mother shrine. It was built at the start of the Kamakura period of Japanese history on the grounds of what is now the Imperial Palace. These grounds became the grounds of Edo Castle during the Edo period, and Hie Shrine celebrated the guardian deity of the castle, which, by default, became the guardian deity of the Imperial Palace after the Emperor was moved to Tokyo.
The shrine was moved outside of the castle, though, in 1607 to make it accessible to the people, and fire, and most recently the Second World War, saw the original buildings destroyed and rebuilt several times.
An interesting feature of the temple is the statues of its monkey gods: a king' and a queen' with child, pictured here, that look across the courtyard into the main shrine.
Supplicants to Oyamakui-no-kami, the god of Mount Hie, ring the bell, throw some coins into the offering box, clap and bow their head in prayer.
June 4, 2006.
Listen to the supplications - a sound heard in shrines throughout Japan