Where the Ōjin-Tennō is being worshipped as a divine spirit
It is not for the first time that I am writing about a shrine that is dedicated to the god Hachiman. In fact, shrines of that kind have been repeatedly mentioned. In some way, also here the popularity of this god has found its documentaton:
Tomioka Hachimangū (富岡八幡宮)
– Deities’ palanquins and Sumō wrestlers
Konnō Hachimangū (金王八幡宮)
– More than 900 years of vivid Shintō tradition
Zenpukuji & Igusa Hachimangū (善福寺/井草八幡宮)
– Architectural liberty & shintō sense of style
– Japan’s (forced) dawn of modernity
– or: a romantic town of southern flair
– The tranquility of a UNESCO world heritage
Just in case you haven’t heard: The divine entities in Japan’s old religion, the Shintō, may not be immortal, not almighty and not omniscient, but, on the other hand, everybody and everything can be divine (the emphasis lies on “can” – this potential isn’t really lived up to by too many, to put it mildly).
The god Hachiman (八幡 / はちまん) is a rather pretty excample for a human being that turned “divine”: During his lifetime this Hachiman was known as Ōjin-Tennō (応神天皇 / おうじんてんのう) (200 to 310 AD) (i.e.: he was the 15th emperor of Japan – and as such, already by his function divine – as the present emperor, the 125th, is). However, it was more his skilled warfare that brought him the extra portion of divinity. All Japanese emperors are descendants of the great-great-great-grandson of Amaterasu Ōmikamis (天照大神 / あまてらすおおみかみ), of the Jimmu Tennō (神武天皇 / じんむてんのう), who was the first emperor of Japan (which was about 2,675 years ago). It is obvious that the Japanese Imperial Family can look back on a rather fascinating history of its foundation – a history that not only explains a lot about the characteristics of the Japanese people, but is also a highly interesting to read. And, as can be said for any other religion: They are all likely stories….
The said god Hachiman was enshrined in the Ōmiya Hachiman shrine (大宮八幡宮 / おおみやはちまんぐう), located in Tōkyō’s Suginami ward (杉並区 / すぎなみく) in the year 1063 AD.. The regular reader of the this website may ask: “How is that possible? Just 30 years later the Ōjin-Tennō was also enshrined in the Konnō Hachimangū (金王八幡宮 / こんのうはちまんぐう) in Shibuya (渋谷 / しぶや) (and, of course, not only there).“ In this case be reminded that the character of Japanese gods allows them to only gain in strength, if their spiritual powers are being multiplied.
At the Ōmiya Hachiman shrine not only the Ōjin-Tennō is being worshipped, but also the Empress Jingū (神功皇后 / じんぐうこうごう) (about 169-269 AD). She was the mother of the Ōjin-Tennō, who reigned the country after the death of her husband (201 AD). And in this case it should be regarded as “only fair”, that also the father of the Ōjin-Tennō, the Chūai-Tennō (仲哀天皇 / ちゅうあいてんのう), who was emperor from 192 to 200 AD, is worshipped here. This ancestral worship finds it’s annual climax in a festival at the shrine on the 15 September.
Be that as it may, the foundation of this shrine is related to another giant in Japanese history, to Minamoto no Yoriyoshi (源 頼義 / みなもと の よりよし) (998-1075 AD). He is primarily known as a military leader who – in the same year – also founded the much more famous Tsurugaoka Hachiman shrine (鶴岡八幡宮 / つるがおかはちまんぐう) in Kamakura (鎌倉 / かまくら). It is being told that the said Minamoto no Yoriyoshi was following a heavenly inspiration, when he had the erection of the shrine ordered at this very spot: A cloud in the shape of the Genji’s (源氏 / げんじ) symbol had appeared in the sky (“Genji” is the more popular – and certainly easier-to-read name of Minamoto no Yoriyoshi’s clan). Note: It is always good to know a powerful god at your side when you go to war….
But even if you couldn’t care less for religion and history, the plot of the Ōmiya Hachiman shrine is one of the prettiest ones in the city. The shrine is surrounded by a gorgeous forest that is protected by the metropolitan prefecture of Tōkyō as a natural monument. The Watabori Park (和田掘公園 / わたぼりこうえん), on the other side of the Zenpukuji river (善福寺川 / ぜんぷくじがわ), once was part of the shrine’s grounds. Nowadays it’s a kind of green sanctuary for all those citizens seeking some green around them – and that also applies to the park alongside the river (the fact that the “river” isn’t much more than a rather sad runnel in a concrete duct, is – of course – just marginalia and shouldn’t disturb you).
Tip: Should you come here with not-too-old children, it might be a good idea to walk along the river in northwestern direction until you reach the Suginami Traffic-Education Park (杉並児童交通公園 / すぎなみじどうこうつうこうえん) at the southern banks of the river. This site was opened in 1972 and doesn’t just offer bicycles and pedal go carts, but also an old steam engine (built in 1938), which may delight not only the little ones.
How to get there:
Take the Keiō Inokashira line (京王井の頭線 / けいおういのかしらせん) to Nishi Eifuku-ji (西永福駅 / にしえいふくじえき) and from the station’s north exit (北口) about 7 minutes on foot, crossing the rather quaint Nishi Eifuku (西永福 / にしえいふく).
Cross the Inokashira Dōri (井の頭通り / いのかしらどおり) in northern direction heading for the Hōnan Dōri (方南通り / ほうなんどおり) that most directly leads to the shrine.
Time of travel from Shibuya: 18 minutes.
Fare (presentlyt): 160 Yen or 154 Yen respectively, if you use a Suica or the like.
Address of the Ōmiya Hachiman shrine:
Openin hours of the Ōmiya Hachiman shrine:
The shrine’s shops and offices are open daily from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm.
No admission fee
Address of the Suginami Traffic-Education Park:
Opening hours of the Suginami Traffic-Education Park:
Daily from 8.30 am to 7 pm (closed during the New Year holidays, 29 December to 3 January)
No admission fee