Saturday, May 19, 2018

Hokkaido Shrine - The Largest Shinto Shrine in Hokkaido @ Sapporo [Japan]

Honestly, i was prepared to give Hokkaido Shrine a miss when i was in Sapporo as the shrines visited in the past few days of my first Japan trip weren't spectacular and i thought i should better spend my precious time somewhere else.

But i am glad we did check it out after realizing, on site, that the nearby Maruyama Zoo wasn't open for business as part of a routine closure!

We actually didn't enter via the entrances with torii (the iconic gateways for Shinto shrine); hence, i can only show you the picture of this long passage that leads to the main torii known as Dai Ni shrine gate.

As part of the custom before stepping into a Shinto shrine, please remember to cleanse yourself with the holy water! p.s. you don't have to strip! For the process, kindly click the link here.

For those who are wondering if Hokkaido's largest shrino shrine is wheelchair accessible, there's a ramp for wheelchair users.

A priest with a modern umbrella walking into the shrine; if he were to hold on to a paper brolly, i might have made the picture a black and white one. Anyway, that's a pair of shiny shoes!

Time for us to step into the shrine too!

What does the rope-like hay thingy signify? According to Wikipedia, it's called shimenawa and served two purposes in a shrine; an indication of a sacred place and to ward against evil spirits!

Compound was definitely the largest among the Japanese shrines i had visited (suitengu, tenguyama, yuzawa) and easily the most peaceful despite drawing more devotees and tourists.

Unlike Chinese temples, Japanese shrines are generally simpler yet no less impressive with just the use of a few significant colors to exemplify its beauty. By the way, a friend who just visited Hokkaido recently told me the shrines can be male or female and the key is to look at the 'horns' (called chigi) above the main hall.

You see a nice passage in the middle and if you are ignorant, like me, you would walk down the middle of the pathway known as sando! The correct way is to walk on the edge as the main sando is for the gods to walk upon!

Drum! No issue what its purpose is although i do understand the two sets of notice in Chinese and English; just don't touch the drum.

Surroundings of the main shrine; founded in 1871 and formerly known as Sapporo Shrine, its name was changed to Hokkaido Shrine with the enshrinement of Emperor Meiji in 1964. The original building was destroyed in a fire in 1974 and the one now had a pretty short history starting from 1978.

Offerings, i guess.

Aside from Emperor Meiji, the other enshrined deities were the divine spirit of the land of Hokkaido, the divine spirit of national administration and colonization and the divine spirit of national administration, medicine and sake brewing. Strangely, i can only find references to three as above, instead of four.

No idea what the above is!

Devotees paying their respects outside the main hall; which is different from Chinese temples as devotees are allowed to pray within the hall where the gods and deities were honored.

We were lucky as there was a religious ceremony held in the main hall and it appeared to be a traditional Japanese wedding!


Video taken for your viewing pleasure as i read that such weddings in Shinto temples were in heavy decline as many couples prefer a Christian setting, even if they are not Christians.

There's a prayer procedure at Shinto temples and all i knew before the trip was that the wooden boxes were for cash donations! Some of you would recall some bowing and clapping but what exactly is the exact process?

Refer to the above; kindly brought to you by Hokkaido Shrine!

Entrance to the main compound with a very important section; the place where i spent quite a bit of money for my family and closest friends.

Japanese amulets and there were so many nice ones to choose from! To read more, please click my previous posting on irresistibly charming Japanese amulets (Omamori) from Hokkaido Shrine.

Other ways to make the superstitious ones fork out more money! Sometimes, it's good not to know a foreign language as the lack of understanding means we might not be keen to buy something without knowing what it's for.

Omikuji - traditional Japanese fortune telling via a divination lot you pick from the box! As an English version was available, i gave it a try as i needed some directions in life after some restructuring at work. Check out the answer here.

Notice these wooden structures with wires strung across them?

They were for your omikuji, especially the bad ones, and ema (votive tablets where you write down your wishes). As i had already hung up an ema at Mt Tengu in Otaru, i decided to give it a miss at Hokkaido Shrine.

Other religious items; i am most interested in this booklet known as shuinchō where you can collect seal stamps (separately charged) from the Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan. Interested to know more? Click here.

You can even get a Shinto tablet at Hokkaido Shrine!

Alex, being non-religious, was getting impatient (and tired as we had walked a long way from the subway station to maruyama zoo and then to Hokkaido Shrine) and i guess it's time to bid goodbye.

Couple taking picture of the long passage leading to the main entrance; you can spot Alex in the above photo with his large, durable crumbler bag.

Bronze statue of a guy called Yoshitake Shima; said to be instrumental in developing the surrounding areas of Hokkaido Shrine and the building of Sapporo when the temple was built.

The stretch may look plain and boring back when i took it in summer but comes spring (like now), the sakura trees lining the pathway would blossom with beautiful pink flowers and there were nearly 1,200 cherry trees in the vicinity!

Last picture; main torii of Hokkaido Shrine!

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Location
474 Miyagaoka, Chuo-ku,
Sapporo-city, Hokkaido, Japan

Location Map

Search for "Hokkaido Shrine" under Sapporo (09 Aug).

Website

Temple Map
As above.


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