Nearest stations

Korakuen, Kasuga, and Iidabashi

JR & 4 subway Lines

Tōkyō-to, Bunkyō-ku, Kasuga 1-5-2

東京都文京区春日1-5-2

北野神社 牛天神

   Kitano Jinja (UshiTenjin)

December 2, 2018 

History

One of the Seven Edo Tenjin. Said to have been founded in 1184 and was originally known as Kanasugi Tenjin (金杉天神). In 1182 Minamoto Yoritomo was sailing past the area when wild seas threatened and he moored his ship to a large pine tree in a quiet inlet to ride out the turbulence. While there he had a dream in which Sugawara Michizane seated on a cow, perhaps a bull, appeared and told him that two good things were going to happen to him and that once they did he should build a shrine. When he awoke from the dream there was a rock beside him that closely resembled the cow/bull on which Sugawara had been seated. It was given the name Gyūishi (牛石).

That same year, 1182, his wife, Hojō Masaka, gave birth to the couple's first son, Yoriie; the following year, 1183,

 

Enshrined Kami:  

Main

(Note: numbers in parentheses after kami names

refer to position in How Many Kami table)

Sugawara no Michizane                 菅原道真

 

From Merged Shrines

None

In-ground Shrines:

Takagi Jinja   高木神社

Ōta Jinja       太田神社

 

​Annual Festival:    May 25

Kitano Jinja (UshiTenjin )  北野神社 牛天神
Kitano Jinja (UshiTenjin )  北野神社 牛天神

the Imperial court in Kyōto recognized his leadership of Eastern Japan following the decline of the Taira. The two good things having happened Yoritomo proceeded to build and dedicate a shrine utilising the Kanjō process to enshrine Sugawara, the kami of the Dazaifu Tenmangū. The gyūishi was installed as the shintai. The site chosen by Yoritomo was to the east of the shrine's current location, but during the Kan'ei Period (1624-1645) it was moved to its current location following the formation of the Mito Domain.

Description

10 min walk from Korakuen, Kasuga, and Iidabashi Stations. There is an interesting story about the in-ground Ōta Jinja which was featured in the Shinpen Tōkyō Meisho-zue (新撰東京名所図絵,  "New Illustrated guide to Famous Tōkyō Sights") a pictorial magazine published from 1890 to 1914. It was based on the reminiscences of old people living in the Koishikawa area.

 

<The original kami of the Ota Jinja was Koroyama-ten-nyo (黒闇天女), the kami of poverty, and Benzaiten's older sister. During the Edo Period there was a low-ranking feudal retainer living in the area. Owing to his status his life was basic, but not particularly unhappy. One night Koroyama-ten-nyo appeared to the retainer in a dream and told him that she had also been living in the house, which for her had been quite comfortable. However, the time had come for her to move on, but as an expression of her gratitude she wanted to give him a chance of a better life. To realize this, he would have to make offerings of red rice (赤飯) and deep-fried slices of tofu (油揚げ)  to her three times a month. He immediately began to do so and soon became quite rich. He had a statue of Koroyama-ten-nyo made and prayed to it daily. On his death his descendants, fearful that their lives would revert to poverty, explained the situation to the priests at Kitano Jinja and as a result the statue was enshrined there. A nearby master carpenter later heard of this, and prayed to the goddess for success in winning a contract from the Bakufu, offering to build a new shrine for her if he succeeded. He did, and built a jinja, now known as Ota Jinja, enshrining Koroyama-ten-nyo. Thereafter she became known as the Kami of Happiness. The shrine's home page tells us that Ota Jinja and Takagi Jinja between them enshrine the husband and wife team of  Ame-no-uzume-mikoto, the Kami of Entertainers, and Saruta-hiko-mikoto, the Kami of Roads, as well as Uka-no-mitama mikoto.

The koma-inu were carved in 1809, note that both are of the open mouth type, the one on the right is usually has a closed mouth. The sacred tree in the grounds, of the Cleyera genus (mokkoku, 木斛)  is over 100 years old.

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© Rod Lucas 2016-2019

All text and photos by Lucas unless otherwise stated