Kobe is well known as an international, modern city that offers a look into real Japanese daily life for those who visit. However, it is less well known that the city is home to historical shrines that are hundreds of years old (and in the case of Ikuta Shrine, over a thousand years old).
You may know that Kobe’s central area Sannomiya is named after Sannomiya Shrine, and that Sannomiya 三宮 is literally “Three shrine”. But did you know that there is also Ichinomiya (One shrine), Ninomiya (Two shrine)… all the way to Hachinomiya (Eight shrine)? On Saturday December 2nd 2017, the Kobe PR Ambassadors went on a tour to visit them all.
Nestled between apartment blocks, modern buildings and typical Japanese homes, the Eight Shrines are secret windows into a Kobe of times past, and reminders of Japan’s religious roots.
These shrines are subordinate shrines of Ikuta Shrine, the largest and most famous in Kobe that is well over one thousand years old. They enshrine three female and five male deities born when the deities Amaterasu-omikami and Susanoo-no-mikoto exchanged a jewel and a sword with each other.
The shrines are not numbered in order of location, rather legend states that they are numbered in the order that the Empress Jingu visited them in ancient times.
The shrines are all accessible by public transport, and you can take the bus to get from place to place. The Kobe City Transportation Bureau have released a special pamphlet in English, Japanese, and Chinese which gives you details and more information on each shrine and how to get there by bus.
Pick up the leaflet at the Kobe Tourist Information Centre and use it to find out which buses to take. What’s more, as well as useful information, it also contains spaces for you to collect special stamps at each shrine for 100 yen.
You can also bring your own Goshuincho and pay 300 yen at each shrine to have the book stamped and adorned with beautiful calligraphy. Just find the window at each shrine and press the bell to call for staff.
If you want to try out this mini-pilgrimage for yourself, pick up a copy of the leaflet and start exploring!
See the Kobe PR Ambassadors’ posts about their experience below!