In the middle of Tokyo Toranomon’s bustling office, if you take a side street and go up a flight of stone stairs you find yourself atop Mt. Atago, and face to face with the Atago shrine. Well known for protection against disasters and fires, there is a hidden story for the front hillside called “Otoko-zaka” (Man Hillside) and its relation to the year of the horse which 2014 is. Climb the “Shusse no Ishidan” and get some work and travel luck just like the Edo Period success story that is hidden in history.
The man who climbed the “Shusse no Ishidan” on horseback
In the Edo Period Atago Shrine was known for the gods of victory and the gods who will take heaven and earth. How the steep stairway “Otoko-zaka” became known as “Shusse no Ishidan” is as follows.
On the way back from praying at Zojoji temple, Tokugawa Iyemitsu drawn to the plum flowers at the top of the hill, called upon his men “Who here can ride up and get some of those beautiful plum flower branches for me?”. Gazing up at the very steep hill side stairway, the Shogun’s men were not willing to try such a dangerous feat. Amongst them was one man, Magaki Heikuro, a retainer from the Marugame domain’s Sanuki province, who gallantly rode up the stairs on his steed and brought back branches of plum flowers, and was henceforth well known throughout the land for his riding skills.
The Atago Shrine is well known for many famous tales, one of the most famous being the meeting of Katsu Kaishu and Saigo Takamori before the siege and bloodless hand over of Edo Castle.
Otoko-zaka. Where the famous Kimura Takuya climbed
Looking down from the top of the stairs is almost frightening. At a 40 degree angle, its steepness makes you wonder if it is really possible for anyone to ride up on horseback. History actually shows that there were 3 other occasions when people climbed this stairway on horseback! The famous Kimura Takuya once during a TV show ran up these stairs at full speed, which gained him popularity.
Although ridiculously steep you can take your time and use the handrails to walk up. The success you gain doesn’t change if you run or walk.
If you’re not confident in strength going up the less steep “Onna-zaka” (woman’s hillside) or taking the elevator on the east side of Atago tunnel is an option. Of course whichever way you go up to the shrine you can benefit from the shrines protective powers.
Going for the first pray of the year is also suggested to get disaster and fire protection
Atago Shrine was built in 1603, by Tokugawa Iyeyasu, to protect Edo (Tokyo) from fires. In the center of the image above is the main shrine which houses such spirits as “Homusubi no Mikoto” (a god of fire) and many others to protect from fires and disasters. Definitely want to pray here to ward off those dangers.
Some of the festivals here are, “Saitansai” The festival to pray for no accidents and rich harvests that year on every new year day. “Sennichi Mairi Hoozuki Ennichi” The festival to bring good luck for a thousand days. You pass under the “Chinowa” decorations under the “Ninuri” Gate pictured above. The shrine will be decorated with good luck flowers called winter cherries. “Shusse no Ishidan Matsuri (held every other year)” The festival where a portable shrine is lit and carried up the stone stairs by men. A must see.
The protector god of travel, perfect for all of us travelers
This is the perfect one for all you Tabiness readers, “Tarobo-jya”. Both “Tarobo” and “Sarutahikonokami” are “Tengu” who guided the grandson of the sun goddess to earth and are protector gods of travel and exploration.
Praying here will get you protection during your travels alongside the luck for success and protection from disasters you gained earlier.
A relaxing restaurant
On the shrine grounds there is a restaurant produced by the famous sommelier Tazaki Shinya, called T+.
Of course there are carefully selected wines by Mr. Tazaki, as well as wonderful French foods using the best of Tokyo’s ingredients; all can be had while taking in the beauty of nature. Make sure to call ahead to find out when they are closed.
Many famous people come here to get luck in success
At Atago Shrine you forget that you are in the middle of the city as you are surrounded by trees and watch the Koi fish swim in the ponds. Every season showing a different face of nature it is an awesome hidden gem.
Its said that many famous people have climbed the stairs of success and succeeded. Would you like to try climbing and praying for the upcoming year of the Cow?
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