Saturday, May 16, 2015

Kanda Myojin, The Love Live Shrine in Akihabara

When I went to Tokyo in April of 2015, one of my must see stops this time was the Kanda Myojin Shrine in Akihabara.  It is about a 15 minute walk west from Chuo Dori, the main street in Akiba, but it is an easy uphill walk.  Kanda Myojin became famous in anime fandom as it was a featured location in the Love Live! anime.  Love Live! is a two season anime series about a group of female students who want to save their school from closing by forming an idol group μ's to sing and dance their way to success. In the show, Nozomi Tojo, the student council vice president of Otonokizaka Academy, is a shrine maiden here and a member of μ's. The girls of the group train around the shrine and hang out in Akihabara.  I really enjoyed the series due to the peppy energy in it and a great set of cute characters, not to mention it featured Akihabara in it.
Love Live! poster at the shrine
Kanda Shrine is a Shinto shrine that dates back 13 centuries, but it has been rebuilt numerous times due to fire and earthquake.  The current shrine was destroyed in the Great Kanto earthquake of1923 and was rebuilt in 1934 with concrete.  It survived the firebombing of Tokyo in World War II.  There are three kami (gods more or less) enshrined there.  They are Daikokuten, Ebisu, and Taira no Masakado.  Daikokuten and Ebisu are both gods of fortune so it is a popular place for people who need a boost for wealth and prosperity. Masakado was a samurai rebel against the Heian government and was elevated to a kami later.  The Kanda Festival is one of three major Shinto fesitivals in Tokyo that is celebrated in mid-May.

My Google Map of Akihabara with Kanda Shrine on it.  https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zZoQYcNIzbCM.kSTb6NaeYHN8

It turned out to be a very nice Sunday morning when I went out to visit Akihabara and the shrine.  The Yamanote Line was out of service from Akihabara all the way down to Shinagawa Station as some power pole or large obstacle had fallen on the tracks.  It was out of service for a good portion of the day.  I ended up taking the Keihin Tohoku line to Tokyo Station and then the Chuo Line to Ochanomizu Station.  From here there was another train to connect to Akihabara Station, but I realized that I was close to Kanda Shrine, so I decided to walk to it from there.
Two trains at Ochanomizu
It turns out that Ochanomizu is pretty famous for train otaku as several train lines cross the river here.  I took a few snapshots and then continued onto the shrine.  From Ochanomizu it isn't an uphill walk either to the shrine's main gate.  I had to stop at a 7-11 to get some food as I had skipped breakfast and the shrine was basically just a block away!
Main Tori Gate to the shrine
Portable Shrine
Cute little wooden bear
A couple of tanuki near the tori.
The front gate, Zuishin-mon, is gorgeous and I just had a great feeling about this shrine from first sight.  Beyond the gate was a medium sized temple complex, but it had a very down to earth / homey kind of vibe.  This shrine is well kept (with many worshippers) and I think it is my favourite shrine out of the ones I have visited in Tokyo.  It doesn't hurt that the shrine has embraced its Love Live! affiliation and prospers from it too!
Zuishin-mon
There are a few buildings on the grounds, with some large monuments to the enshrined deities there.  This shrine is famous with anime fans who have left many artistically drawn ema (wish plaques) there and it is also famous for information technology folks like me who can purchase lucky charms for computer work here!
Daikoku
Ebisu
There are thousands of illustrated ema here.  It is very cool.
The shrine sells Nozomi ema (plaque in the middle)
Illustrated ema
More illustrated ema.
The main shrine buildings look like this and are nice examples of this type of architecture.
Shrine grounds
Main admin building / shops
Guardian
Main shrine building
Inside the shrine building
Paper lanterns
I always seem to get bad fortunes at the Asakusa Shrine, but I received a good fortune here.  Great way to start my day!  I also picked up an IT Charm that I'm using now.
The mechanical Shisha will present you with a fortune.
Good luck!
IT Charm.  The big card goes in your wallet, the little sticker goes on your cell phone, and the larger strip attaches to your computer.
You can also buy gashapon that feature that shrine here and I also saw these in Akiba.  The capsules feature elements of the shrine and an ema with Nozomi again.  This shrine is working with tradition and modernity as it has adopted some anime elements and was also featured in the Amazing Race 26 (2015) as one of the first landmarks in the very first leg that stopped in Tokyo.
Capsule toys. 400 yen each.
The famous steps that the Love Live girls jog up and down as part of their training to become idols.  While I was taking pictures, a couple of other anime fans showed up to photograph the stairs too!
Looking up the steps.

Love Live! is still very popular and the anime is celebrated all over in Akihabara in many displays.

Love Live CDs in a store.
Posters
Fan board.
More figures
Figures as UFO catcher prizes
More Love Live figures.
Love Live merchandise
That's all for the visit to Kanda Myojin.  If you are interested in visiting a shrine that crosses tradition and pop culture, this is a good place to go!  Tokyo Bling also has some great posts on Kanda Shrine.

You can read about my visit to Akihabara in three part series of posts here.

More Japanese Pop Culture Posts



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