We found this temple on our way from Rengeoin Sanjusangendo as we were walking to the Kiyomizu-dera Temple. There were several others along the way, such as the Ontani Mausoleum, the Yōgenin Temple, and far too many others to count. The Toyokuni Shrine is located up a tall set of stairs, and nearly invisible from the street. We were intrigued because of how many people we saw climbing the stairs and coming and going.
► Ranking: #cleandiaper
Japan, 〒605-0931 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Chayacho, 530
Hours: 6am to 4pm
This Shrine is dedicated to the famous samurai lord, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, one of the three heroes of Japan who served the royal family. Some say it was built in the 8th century, while most date it a thousand years later in the late 1500’s. That’s quite a stretch isn’t it?
The deities here provide good luck in games and competitions, so it’s probably safe to assume this shrine is a popular one with the athletes. It is associated with an specific type of amulet, that you can purchase here of course, that wards off bad luck. It is said that Toyotomi wore this specific type of amulet when he fought.
The most interesting aspect of this shrine is that it is the first location that a Shinto altar (tamaya) was constructed here. These are now commonplace at every shrine in Japan used for praying to ancestors or deities at the foot of the offering hall. After washing hands at the purifying station, the customary practice for using the altar is to first throw a coin into the altar, then ring the bell (if there is one available). After that, you are to bow and clap your hands twice, express gratitude in your mind and finish by bowing once more.
We came across an older gentleman at this shrine who offered to take our photo. We were able to converse with him for a little while, and found out he lived and worked in our home state of Utah for several years! He spoke excellent English, and it was fun to talk to him about both countries. We each enjoyed hearing each other’s experiences in the opposite culture.
► For Kids: The Toyokuni Shrine is a smaller one, easy to get to, and not much fuss. It offers a good juxtaposition to the the grander shrines while offering a reference point for cultural standards.
This was certainly not the most grand of the shrines and temples we visited, but it was unique in that it appeared to be frequently mainly by locals for true worship.
► Nap-Time Version: A smaller shrine that offers a sample of local worship.