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The biggest power spot in Kanto! Highlights of Chichibu Sanja (Saitama)

What are the Chichibu Sanja shrines?

Chichibu, located in a mountainous area rich in nature, has attracted attention in recent years for its many historic shrines.

The Chichibu Sanja are: Hotozan Shrine, famous for the legend of Takemuson and his mountain dog; Chichibu Shrine, one of the oldest in Japan and dedicated to the founder of the Chichibu region; and Sanbo Shrine, located on the mountain where Yamatotakeru stopped when he toured the eastern part of Japan.

The three Chichibu shrines are popular as one of the most important power spots in the Kanto region, and people visit them constantly to seek for blessings. The Chichibu Sanjinsha are also full of historical buildings, beautiful carvings, and beautiful natural surroundings.

Location and Access

Chichibu is located on the western edge of Saitama Prefecture. Chichibu borders Nagano Prefecture to the west, Yamanashi Prefecture to the southwest, and part of the northern part of the city borders Gunma Prefecture. It is located approximately 50-70 km from Saitama City, the capital of Saitama Prefecture. About 87% of Chichibu City is covered with forests and is blessed with a natural environment.

By train

From the Tokyo area, the Seibu Railway provides an efficient 80-minute express train ride from Ikebukuro Station to Seibu-Chichibu Station. From Tokyo Station or Ueno Station, you can take the JR Takasaki Line or Joetsu Shinkansen to JR Kumagaya Station and transfer to the Chichibu Railway to get to Chichibu Station, but it is a long way and time consuming, so we recommend that you use the transportation method from Ikebukuro Station. From Omiya in Saitama, take the JR Takasaki Line (bound for Kagohara) to JR Kumagaya Station (about 40 minutes), then transfer to the Chichibu Railway from Kumagaya Station to Chichibu Station (about 70 minutes).

By car

From the Hanazono Interchange on the Kan-etsu Expressway, it takes about 1 hour to reach Chichibu City via the national highway (or from the Kawagoe or Tsurugashima Interchanges on the Kan-etsu Expressway to Chichibu City via the national highway). ) The trip on the Ken-O Expressway from Sayama-Hidaka I.C. to Chichibu City takes about 1 hour using the national highway on the way.

Attractions and Locations of the 3 Chichibu Shrines

・Hotozan Shrine

Hotozan Shrine is located in Nagatoro-cho, a town famous for its line rafting (river rafting), about 30 minutes by car from Chichibu City. There is an inner shrine on top of the mountain, which can be visited by a ropeway.

Hotozan Shrine is located on Mt. Hozen is one of the few independent peaks in the Chichibu mountain massif and is famous for its beautiful seasonal nature. The origin of Hotozan Shrine can be traced back to the time when Nihon no Muson entered Hotozan after his conquest of the eastern part of Japan and was struck by a forest fire while attempting to reach the summit after Misogi. After reaching the summit with the help of the wild dogs, Nihon no Musunonushi, in gratitude to the gods, enshrined three gods: Kanyamato-Iwarehiko no Mikoto, the first Emperor Jinmu, his ancestor; Oyamazuminokami, the god of mountains; and Homusubi-no-kami, the god of fire. At that time, the name of the mountain was given as "Hozan (Mt. Hozan)," which means "mountain that stops fire," and it later came to be called "Hotozan (Mt. Hozan).

・Chichibu Shrine

Located in Chichibu City and a 12-minute walk from Seibu-Chichibu Station, this is the easiest of the three Chichibu shrines to visit. The shrine was the setting for the anime and movie "Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day" The Chichibu Shrine is famous for being the setting of an anime and movie called "Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai.

According to the "Saijyo kujiki - Kokuzou honki," an early Heian period Japanese classic, Chichibu Shrine was built by Chichibu Hiko no Mikoto, a descendant of Yagokoromokanen no Mikoto, who was appointed as the first Kokuzou of Chichibu Province in the reign of Emperor Soujin the 10th (around the latter half of the 3rd century). Chichibuhiko-no-mikoto, a descendant of Yagokoromokane-no-Mikoto, who was appointed as the first national governor of Chichibu Province, enshrined the ancestral deity Yagokoromokane-no-Mikoto. Since then, the shrine has continued to serve as the chief Shinto shrine of Chichibu Province, and has a very long history.

・Mitsumine Shrine

Located in the mountains at an altitude of nearly 1,000 meters, about an hour by bus from Chichibu City, the shrine is not conveniently accessible, but this makes it a place where one can feel the atmosphere of a Shinto sanctuary even more. It is also slightly cooler than Chichibu City, making it easier to spend time in summer.

Mitsumine Shrine enshrines Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto, the deities of married couples, and is said to bring good luck to married couples and to bring them together as well as a bountiful harvest. In addition, a mountain dog (wolf), which is associated with the legend of Yamatotakeru, has replaced the guardian dogs, and since the wolf is said to ward off bad luck, the shrine is said to bring blessings for family safety and various other bad lucks. It is said that the shrine was founded around the time of Emperor Keiko, the father of Takemison (if he actually existed, it is said to have been around the 4th century). The origin of the shrine is that when Yamatotakeru visited the area, he enshrined two Shinto gods, Izanagi no Musunon and Isanagi no Musunon, who gave birth to the country because of its beauty.

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・Divine virtues

If you decide to buy an amulet here, we recommend that you buy one to ward off bad luck. The Hozan Shrine is especially well known for its divine virtues as a guardian deity against fire, theft, and various other calamities, and is visited not only by Chichibu citizens but also by worshippers from all over the Kanto area.

・The Shrine

The current shrine pavilions were rebuilt in the Gongen-zukuri style between the end of the Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji period (1868-1912).

Eisho, the abbot of Gyokusenji Temple, began the reconstruction in 1845 (Koka 2), the end of the Edo period, but it was very difficult to procure funds. When the separation of Shintoism and Buddhism was decreed in the Meiji era (1868-1912), Eisho left the priesthood, practiced Shintoism, and continued to work hard on the reconstruction.

The reconstruction of the main shrine building was completed in 1871, and the worship hall in 1874, which took 29 years. Eisho became the first priest named Kosuge Koremichi, and returned to Kumagaya in 1875 at the age of 76.

・Carving by Iida Iwajiro, a sculptor from Akedo, Bushu in Kumagaya

The main hall of the shrine is decorated with carvings from the book "24 Filial Piety," which describes 24 people who were particularly outstanding in their filial deeds.

The main hall and other parts of the worship hall were renovated in 2009 to celebrate the 1900th anniversary of the shrine's establishment. The shrine was renovated in 2009 to commemorate the 1900th anniversary of the shrine's founding, and the main hall and other parts of the worship hall were decorated with colorful sculptures during the renovation.

・Yamatotakeru Shrine

This shrine is dedicated to Yamatotakeru no Mikoto, a hero in the folklore of ancient Japanese history who was involved in the founding of Hotozan Shrine.

・Inner Shrine

This shrine is located at the place associated with the summit of Mt. Hotozan where the divine spirit was enshrined by Nippon Busonushi, the prince of the 12th Emperor Keiko.

It takes about an hour to climb up from the main shrine, but can be visited by a 5-minute ropeway ride up the mountain. Visitors can enjoy the view of Hodosan and the city of Chichibu from the ropeway.

Highlights of Chichibu Shrine, 3 recommendations

・The shrine pavilion

The Chichibu area, located at the headwaters of the Arakawa River, was an important water source during the Edo period (1603-1868), and in 1592, Tokugawa Ieyasu ordered the construction of the present shrine building to protect Chichibu as a water source. The shrine has undergone several restorations, but the current shrine pavilion was restored in the 1970s. It is designated as a Tangible Cultural Property of Saitama Prefecture because it retains the architectural style of the time (Gongen-zukuri) well.

・Works of Hidari Jingoro

Hidari Jingoro is said to be a legendary Akashi-born sculptor who is said to have been active in the early Edo period (1603-1868), but it may have been the name of a group of craftsmen in the later years of his career. He was also the subject of Kodan, Nankyoku, Rakugo, and Shochiku Shinkigeki. The "Sleeping Cat" at Nikko Toshogu Shrine, the "Eight Footed Gate" at Izumo Taisha Shrine, the "Frogmata no Zuiju" and the "Running Water Monument" are very famous for the work done by Jingoro Sa. At Chichibu Shrine, you can see some of his works such as "Tiger of Child-rearing" and "Dragon of Tsunagiri".

・Recommended for Prayers for Success

Since Yatsuyakanemikoto is the god of wisdom, many students visit the shrine to pray for success in entrance examinations during the exam season. Omikuji (omikuji) dipped in water is also famous. When dipped in the pond on the shrine grounds, the characters will come to life.

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・Unusual three torii gates and a wolf statue at the entrance of the approach to the shrine

This unusual shape is also known as Miwa-torii (three-wheeled torii). Although its origin is not known, about 30 shrines, including Miwa Shrine in Nagoya and Atago Shrine in Shizuoka, have torii gates of this shape. Also, since the origin of this shrine is deeply related to wolves, a statue of a wolf is placed here instead of a guardian dog.

・Bronze statue of Yamatotakeru

The shrine has a large statue of Yamatotakeru, which is also named after him. Next to the statue is a monument to Oyama Baidatsu, the founder of Kyokushin Karate.

・Suijimon Gate (Suijimon Gate)

This gate was built in 1691 and rebuilt in 1792. Upon entering here, large cedar trees line the approach to the shrine and the air seems to have changed.

・Mitsumine Shrine worship hall and sacred tree

After climbing the stairs flanked on either side by the 800 year old "Shigetada cedar" sacred tree, you will see the hall of worship built in 1800. The worship hall has a shadow of a dragon that came to life in the year 2012 (the Year of the Dragon). The main hall and Kaguraden (Shinto music and dance hall) are located in the back.

・Enmusubi Tree

A short distance away from the hall of worship is a sacred fir and cypress tree called "Enmusubi no ki. It is said to bring blessings for the fulfillment of love, and there is no end to the number of people who write the name of the person they love and their own name on a piece of paper and pay the money to the shrine.

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