Introduction

Worshipped Gods

Uganomitamanokami (Inari-sama)
Ichikishimahimenokami (Benzaiten)
Fukurokuju

History of the shrine

社殿 A long time ago, the monk Eshin Sōzu lived here in a hermitage, worshipping the Buddhist goddesses Kannon and Benzaiten. It is not known, when exactly the hermitage was built, but it is assumed that the monk lived here about 1000 years ago.
As a plague spread here in 1466, an old net-weaver came here and brought rice-ears that entangled in one of his nets as offering and decided to stay for a few days. Then, one night, Eshin Sōzu appeared to the abbot of temple in a dream and told him, that this old man in fact was the god Inari and that the plague could be taken away if they worshipped him adequately.
The next day, the old man was gone. However, the abbot remembered the advice and prayed to the god – which he now called Koami Inari Daimyōjin (Inari of the small net) – day and night. After a little while the plague was gone and the people could live in peace again. The overlord the region, Ōta no Dōkan, also heard of this miracle and donated a part of his fiefdom to shrine. At the end of the 16th Century then, the area around the shrine was also named Koami and the shrine itself was beginning to be worshipped as a tutelary god.
In the Meiji-period (1868-1912) the state pursued a separation of Shinto and Buddhism, which both had moulded into a syncretic belief during the prior one-thousand years, and so the Koami Inari Shrine was officially registered as a shinto village shrine. The building as we can see it today was built in the 1920ies under the direction of Naitō Komasaburō, who also assisted the building of the Meiji-Shrine. Spared from the destruction of World War II, the shrine nowadays is the only wooden building made out of cypress wood in Nihonbashi. The wooden carvings of two dragons (one ascending, the other one descending) on the porch roof of the main hall symbolize luck and the shrine – now simply called Koami Shrine – stays an important cultural heritage, as which it is registered in the Chūō-district.

Kagura hall

Kagura hall

Naitō Komasaburō

Naitō Komasaburō

Sculpture of rising dragon

Sculpture of Ascending dragon

Sculpture of Descending dragon

Sculpture of Descending dragon

The goddess of luck

Having been spared from destruction and continuously being linked to health and safety the goddess of the shrine is seen as a god of luck. For instance, all the sons of the families who lived in the shrine, returned home safely from World War II. The shrine also survived the numerous bombings of Tokyo in 1945 and did not – like so many others did unfortunately – burn down completely. However, the building was destroyed once during the Great Kantō Earthquake in 1923, although the abbot of the shrine was able to secure most parts of the sanctuary by bringing them to Shin-ohashi. It is also said, that those people who sought shelter there, have survived the aftermath of the earthquake. Today a memorial stone reminds us of this episode with an inscription saying: „Praying to the sanctuary of the Koami Shrine, we seek the goddesses’ protection! “

World War II World War II

The History of the goddess Benzaiten

At First the goddess Benzaiten was honoured in the Manpukuju-temple. Then, as the Meiji-government sought to separate Buddhism from Shintoism and installed the latter as a state religion, the Buddhist temple was destroyed and the goddess Benzaiten was transferred to this shrine in 1869. The image here shows the goddess Benzaiten sitting in a boat.
Every year on October 28th a festivity is celebrated in honour of the goddess, where the sacrificial offerings, which are piled up in front of the altar, later on are raffled to the visitors.
Besides that, there is also a small well (named Zeni-arai-no-i), whose water is said to have the power to multiply the money that is washed with its water.

明治期の例大祭

the goddess Benzaiten
sitting in a boat

Important annual festivities and rituals

January:
1st

New Years Ceremony

January:
1st to 7th

Pilgrimage to the eight temples in Shitamachi and the seven shrines of the gods of luck in Nihonbashi

Febuary:
3rd

Expel of demons at the beginning of spring (Setsubun). First day oft he horse.
Festivity in the honour of god Inari

March:
28th

Annual Festival (Every five years with a great procession)

June:
30th

Great purification ceremony at midyear.

October:
28th

Festivity in the honour of goddess Benzaiten.

November:
28th

Doburoku Festival

December:
31st

Great purification ceremony at the year-end and New Years Eve-ceremony

(Due to bad weather the actual dates of the festivities are object to changes.)

Doburoku Festival

Every year on November 23rd a harvest festival is held at the imperial palace and all shrines throughout the country, where freshly harvested rice is offered up to the gods, praying for their blessing. In our shrine not only rice, but also freshly brewed rice-wine (called Doburoku) is used as sacrificial offering, which is given to the visitors then on November 28th. (If this day is a Saturday or Sunday, the event will be rescheduled to the nearest Monday or Friday.)
On this day you can also enjoy shrine-music and traditional dance (Sato-kagura) and we start selling the Mimizuku-charms, which can be purchased until New Years Day.

Mimizuku-Charms

Mimizuku-Charms  Tradition has it, that a long time ago a daughter, who had no money to buy medicine for her sick mother was told by one of the gods that she could help her mother with an owl weaved out of reed. In that spirit we also manufacture our Mimizuku-charms out of reed and sell them from the Doburoku-Festival until the New Years Day.

Pilgrimages

miniature ships of the seven godsEvery year there are pilgrimages to the eight surrounding shrines in Tokyo-Shitamachi and the shrines of the seven gods of luck in Nihonbashi from January 1th to 7th. (During this period all of the participating shrines can be visited by Hatobus). In our shrine we worship the gods Fukurokuju and Benzaiten, which are said to ward of the evil and shape our fate positively. On this occasion we sell popular images of the gods of luck, as well as charms in the form of miniature ships.
Sign paper of the eight surrounding shrines

Koami Shrine
Nihonbashi Koami-chō 16-23
Chūō-ku, 103-0016 Tokyo
TEL:03-3668-1080
FAX:03-3668-8676
www.koamijinja.or.jp

小網神社