Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 9 - Hokkaido Jingu (Sapporo)

Hokkaido Jingu in Sapporo 8th February, 2003 - After visiting Ookurayama we drove back towards the city, stopping off at Hokkaido Jingu - the main Shinto shrine in Sapporo. It's a good time to catch up on some good luck, and buy some charms.

Shima Yoshitake
Hokkaido Shrine lacks some of the grandeur that you find in other shrines around Japan - but it's definitely well liked (if you get a chance to visit in New Years, you'll be surprised at just how busy it is here). At this time of year it's a little more subdued.

In the shrine grounds you will come across an enigmatic bronze statue that stands at the boundary of the forest, as if a long lost explorer having finally returned to civilization. His name is Shima Yohitake (1822-74) who was a samurai of the Saga district who was deeply involved in the job of planning the new city of Sapporo in the late 1860's - and especially the location of the new shrine. Unfortunately for him, he joined in the Saga revolt (against the ruling Meiji government) and was captured and subsequently executed.

The Japanese are renowned for their innovative spirit - but I was somewhat surprised to see that the culture of drive-thru-convenience had extended to visiting the Shrine. We were walking past the car-park only to find one of the priests loitering mysteriously around a car - before beginning to perform some form of ritual blessing. Now that's handy - visit the shrine, get a charm and get your car exorcised of bad spirits. All in an afternoons work.

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