Jun 13, 2016

Visiting Shrines outside Tokyo (Kashima, Sawara) and an authentic Meiji era Motif

In this article I am featuring a nice day trip you can take easily from Tokyo by car. We started our tour by first driving directly to the Kashima Jingu Shrine which is located about 100 km from central Tokyo. Kashima is an important center for water traffic and from old days imperial messengers were dispatched to th shrine. It is the origin of the old Tokaido-line. The shrine was worshipped by various warriors over time such as Minamoto Yoritomo, th founder of the Kamakura Shogunate. The present main shrine was donated by the Tokugawa Hidetada, the second Shogun of Tokugawa Shogunate. The shrine is designated as "important cultural properties" by the Japan Government. The sword called Futsu-no-Mita-ma-no-Tsurugi is th sol "national Treasure" in Ibaraki Prefecture.

A couple of little known facts about this shrine. Every September 1, there is an annual festival with Imperial messengers in attendance. During the grand festival held every 12 years called the Mifune-Matsuri, an Imperial Messenger officially visits the shrine. The law of Chivalry is considered to have originated here and "Shingo" (a sacred hanging scroll) of the Kashima Shrine is hung on the walls of exercise halls in many countries around the world. The Kashima Shrine is visited by people from all throughout Japan and is known in the country with very high dignity.

For the next location, the visit to Sawara City, it is highly recommended to visit on a Sunday. There is a Steam Locomotive that runs once a week on Sundays at 2pm. The awe in which the crowd watches this wonderful machine go by is worth timing this right and being part of the crowd. To walk along the river and around the town in Sawara city, is just fantastic. There are lots of authentic old buildings and shops and sculptures of animals lining the streets along the river. Sawara City is the hometown of the famous map maker Mr. Tadataka Inoo, known as Japan's modern map maker. The Tadataka Inoo museum is a great place to visit as you can see maps of Japan, tools, and various small arts and crafts and artifacts from Meiji and Edo era life.

Sawara city started to prosper in the late 1500s who Tokugawa Iyasu was transferred to Edo. He was in charge of a big project to divert the course of the Tone River away from do so that it would flow far eastwards into the Pacific Ocean. Over 60 years time, the Tone River crated a new route of transportation that was safe travel to Edo. Products from Sawara and northern Japan were brought to Edo along the Tone river. The golden age of Sawara lasted up through Meiji era.

Katori Jingu located in Sawara is a Shinto Shrine and is historic as being one of the oldest shrines in Central Japan. The temple was founded about 600 years ago and is considered one of th three greatest temples that deify Kobo Daishi. The shrine is known to have power to drive away evils over human beings. The shrine was a kind of holding area for soldiers dispatched from central Japan so the art of sword handling called 'Katori-Ushinto-Ryu' was created here by Iizasa Choisai who lived near the shrine in the Middle Ages. The main building and gate were erected in Edo Era. The Treasure House contains the oldest bronze mirror in Japan.

You can manage this one day trip rather easily by leaving 8am and able to arrive back at reasonable time in the evening. The sunset at the end of the day at Katori Jingu was a fitting way to end this day. 



Executive Search professional based in Tokyo since 1996.
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