Kanda-jinja Shrine 神田明神
A revered shrine with unusual modern appeal
Kanda Jinja is a shrine in Tokyo with a long and complex history. It has been influential since it was built nearly 1,300 years ago. It held great prominence during the Edo period and, oddly enough, is now a much-visited destination for anime fans.
Two of the shrine's deities are members of the Shichifukujin or Seven Lucky Gods
Taira-no-Masakado, who rebelled against the government, is a deity here
Nozomi Tojo from the popular anime Love Live! is Kanda Jinja's official mascot
How to Get There
The shrine is a seven-minute walk from Akihabara Station. It is actually closer to JR Ochanomizu Station, or Suehirocho Station on the Ginza Line. Kanda Myojin is around a five-minute walk from either station.
Entrepreneurs and rebels
Originally built in 730 A.D., Kanda Myojin houses many deities. Two of them, Daikokuten and Ebisu, are counted among the Shichifukujin or Seven Lucky Gods of good fortune. Because of this, many businesspeople visit this shrine to pray for prosperity.
Taira-no-Masakado, who started an uprising against the government of this region, was enshrined here after his death in 940, and later became a deity. He was removed from the shrine at one point, but his popularity among locals was so great that he was defiantly restored to Kanda Myojin after World War II.
Odd and raucous festivals
The origin of Kanda Matsuri festival is unknown, but it is said that this festival became grand from the Edo period. Ieyasu Tokugawa, who later became the first shogun of the Edo period, prayed for the victory of the Battle of Sekigahara at this shrine and won the battle in 1600. Since Kanda Matsuri was being held on the day of his victory, the shrine became an object of veneration for Ieyasu and prospered as a festival that brought good luck to the Tokugawa family. It's one of the three major Shinto festivals in Tokyo, the others being the Sanno Matsuri at Hie-jinja Shrine and the Fukagawa Matsuri at Tomioka Hachiman Jinja.
What is unusual about Kanda Matsuri is that its honmatsuri (main festival) is celebrated around May 15 only in odd-numbered years. The honmatsuri of Sanno Matsuri , on the other hand, is held only on even-numbered years.
Pop culture and Akihabara
Kanda Myojin is now more popular than ever, drawing fans of anime and hobbyists from nearby Akihabara. The appearance of Kanda Myojin in the popular anime Love Live!, where the character Nozomi Tojo served as a shrine maiden, was so popular that she is now the shrine's official mascot.
If you look carefully at the ema good luck charms hanging in the shrine, you'll find many with manga illustrations. Old and new live harmoniously here, a reminder that the shrine does indeed bring fortune to the society's rebels.