Story Power Spots and Omamori – the Key to En-musubi’s Popularity by JNTO on 24 January 2020
Shrines in Japan are a common attraction for many visitors, and their allure is all-reaching – their intricate histories are sure to draw in those with a taste for tradition, while their traditional architectures make the surrounding landscapes photographer s' dreams.
Some may even like visiting them as a place to recharge, as the peaceful shrine grounds make a great place for visitors to take a stroll and gather their thoughts.
However, the primary function of shrines remains that of a place of worship. Visitors who toss coins in offering and clap their hands in prayer are a common sight at every shrine – but did you know that different shrines are known for different types of blessings?
For example, some shrines may be more well-known for bestowing luck in studies and learning, while others are for blessing families with children, or blessing one with wealth and fortune. There are also shrines that are well-known for en-musubi.
What is En-musubi?
En-musubi, which loosely translates to ‘binding of fates’, can refer to any type of relationship, but is commonly used to refer to those of a romantic nature. Famous en-musubi shrines are highly visited by couples who wish for a long and happy relationship, as well as by singles who pray for new encounters ahead.
The idea of wishing for the binding of your fate with another’s is poetic without a doubt, but what spurs visitors to travel long distances for a chance to pray at these shrines? The answer is twofold.
Firstly, certain shrines are regarded as ‘power spots’, which can be interpreted as locations with a high concentration of mystical energy. Visiting power spots is believed to have beneficial effects – in the case of en-musubi shrines, this means they are regarded as extremely potent for those praying for new, or stronger relationships, such as for new couples, or for those preparing to get married.
Secondly, the omamori at these shrines – or protective amulets – are often colourful, attractive, and creative. Not only do they offer you a sense of security, they also function as charming accessories for those looking to bring a bit of relationship luck home.
If you are looking for a place to boost your love luck for the year, here are three shrines in Japan that might just be the key to establishing new relationships and rekindling old ones!
The power spot among power spots – Izumo Taisha, where Gods gather (Shimane Prefecture)
Located in Shimane Prefecture, which happens to be the second-least populated prefecture in Japan as of 2019, Izumo Taisha is a key part of Japanese history and lore. While its date of establishment has never been clearly recorded, many believe that it may be the oldest shrine in Japan.
The main deity enshrined here at Izumo Taisha is Okuninushi no Mikoto, who is said to have created the land that makes up Japan today. Okuninushi no Mikoto is thus worshipped for having created Japan, at the same time he is also worshipped as a deity of fate. Additionally, under Japan’s old calendar, October is known as the month when the gods are believed to gather at Izumo Taisha to discuss the ties that bind, and the kinds of ‘fates’ and meetings that humans would have over the next year.
At other shrines, visitors typically clap twice when they pray. At Izumo Taisha, however, one claps four times. There are multiple explanations for this – one common reasoning is that during Izumo Taisha’s largest annual festival, “Daisairei,” visitors clap eight times to express their infinite reverence for the gods. As eight is believed to be a number that represents infinity since ancient times in Japan, the number is halved for regular visits on days other than the special once-a-year event.
The shrine sells a wide variety of en-musubi related items, ranging from usual omamori and ema (wooden votive tablets) for writing down wishes, to couples’ chopsticks, necklaces, and more! Regardless of what kind of en-musubi you may be praying for, Izumo Taisha’s poetic significance is hard to beat.
Address: 195 Kitsukihigashi, Taisha City, Izumo, Shimane
Access: Ride the Ichibata bus from JR Izumo-shi Station for 25 minutes
Operation hours: 6:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. (March to October), 6:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. (November to February)
Kamado Jinja, just a stone’s throw away from Dazaifu Tenmangu (Fukuoka Prefecture)
Sitting on top of Mount Homan in Fukuoka Prefecture is Kamado Jinja (Kamado Shrine), a popular spot for cherry blossom viewing in spring and for viewing the foliage autumn. Its buildings complement the mountainous backdrop and together they paint an alluring landscape of serenity.
Kamado Jinja is dedicated to a deity named Tamayorihime no Mikoto, who is worshipped as the god of love and matchmaking. While the shrine’s external architecture remains intact, its shrine office was newly redesigned in 2012 to look more modern and sleeker, which has also now become a new attraction for young people visiting the shrine for luck in en-musubi. Colourful shrine goods are displayed stylishly here with multiple varieties to choose from.
Praying at Kamado Jinja is said to be particularly effective for those hoping for en-musubi, and this is embodied in a special ‘red string of fate’ omamori sold here. This red string, which functions as a bracelet or phone strap, is considered a positive omen of good things to come.
Visitors often revisit Kamado Jinja when their wishes have come true to return their string by tying it on a stack of wooden posts at the shrine.
Visitors to Kamado Jinja may also choose to drop by another shrine in the area – Dazaifu Tenmagu Shrine. Enshrined here is a deity known as the god of learning, so youngsters come here to pray for success in both their relationships as well as their studies.
You can say that visiting both shrines in one day is like killing two birds with one stone.
Take a stroll along the path that leads up to Dazaifu Tenmagu Shrine and partake in the sumptuous local snacks from the local shops, or rest your feet at one of the cafes before you resume exploring.
Address: 833 Uchiyama, Dazaifu City, Fukuoka
Access: Ride the community bus “Mahoroba” for about 10 minutes towards Kamado Jinja from Nishitetsu Dazaifu Line Dazaifu Station
Operation hours: 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Fashionable and colorful En-musubi omamori! Kawagoe Hikawa Jinja has it all! (Saitama Prefecture)
About an hour from Tokyo by train, Kawagoe City's tranquil streets with traditional architecture and historical buildings are a joy to explore, and Kawagoe Hikawa Jinja only adds to its rustic charm.
The shrine’s history spans nearly 1,500 years with five different deities enshrined here – comprised of two couples and their children – which explains why this shrine is a popular location for en-musubi.
The omikuji（fortune telling strips of paper） at Kawagoe Hikawa Jinja are also quite popular. They are shaped in the form of a sea bream! Visitors ‘fish’ for their fortunes among a sea of fish dolls which contain the omikuji, and the dolls themselves act as omamori as well.Another quaint omamori that you can find at this shrine is its ‘red pencil’, which symbolizes the distance between yourself and the person you are destined to be with; the more you use the pencil, the shorter distance between the two of you will become.
If you happen to be visiting in summer, keep an eye out for their yearly wind chime display - a corridor of wind chimes with en-musubi wishes dangling from their strings. The picturesque sight it creates, together with the pleasant tinkling of wind chimes when a breeze blows by, is sure to soothe your senses in your tired souls. To find out more about Hikawa Shrine, click https://www.japan.travel/en/sg/story/3-colourful-instagrammable-shrines-and-temples/ for further reads.
Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine
Address: 2-11-3 Miyashitamachi, Kawagoe City, Saitama
Access: From Kawagoe Station on the JR line or Tobu Tojo Line, board the Tobu Bus at bus stop 7 and get off at Kawagoe Hikawa Jinja Station
Operation hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.