Ōkunitama Shrine (大國魂神社 Ōkunitama jinja), located in Fuchū, western Tōkyō, is one of the oldest Shintō shrines in Kantō. It is the Sōja (総社) shrine of Musashino Province (see below) and one of Tōkyō's five Great Shrines. The other shrines are:
  • Tōkyō Daijingū (東京大神宮)
  • Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社)
  • Hie Shrine (日枝神社)
  • Meiji Shrine (明治神宮)
Ōkunitama-jinja is also known as Rokushogū (六所宮), as it combined six shrines located in Musashi Province. It enshrines the main deity, Ōkuninushi-no-Kami (大国主神), as well as several other kami.


okunitama-jinja-05.jpg


History:


According to shrine records, Ōkunitama Shrine was established in the 41st year of the reign of Emperor Keikō (景行天皇), the 12th legendary emperor of Japan, which corresponds to the year 111 CE. In the Taika Period (645 CE), the shrine was confirmed as the Sōja or Sōsha of Musashi Province. Sōja shrines consolidated local kami of a particular area (or province) in one shrine and played a significant role in religious and political life. They were usually located close to the provincial capitals (国府 kokufu).

In the Heian Period, Ōkunitama Shrine entered the annals of history twice: in 1062, when Minamoto no Yoriyoshi (源頼義, 988-1075) and his son Yoshiie (源義家, 1039-1106) donated thousands of keyaki (ケヤキ, zelkova) trees to the shrine to ensure victory in their military campaigns in Mutsu Province, and in 1182 when Minamoto no Yoritomo (源頼朝, 1147-1199) prayed for the safe delivery of a child during the pregnancy of his wife, Hōjō Masako.



Yoritomo expanded the shrine in 1186; Hōjō Yasutoki (北条泰時; 1183-242), the third shikken (regent) of the Kamakura shogunate, added more buildings in 1232. When Tokugawa Ieyasu was sent to Kantō in 1590, he developed a special attachment to the shrine. He enlarged it by 500 koku and added new shrines.

Ōkunitama Shrine was rebuilt in 1646 after a conflagration had destroyed it; in 1667, it was further enlarged by Tokugawa Ietsuna, Ieyasu’s great-grandson. In 1872, it was officially renamed “Ōkunitama-jinja” and three years later designated a Fuken-sha (府県社), a "Metropolitan and Prefectural Shrine”. Finally, in 1886 it was raised to a Kanpei-shōsha (an Imperial Shrine of the 3rd rank).



The Kurayami matsuri (くらやみ祭り, Festival of Darkness), the shrine's annual festival held between 30 April and 6 May, is one of the three oldest festivals in the Kantō region. On 4 May, Keyaki Namiki (ケヤキ並木, Zelkova Row), the road approaching the temple is a stage for horse races and folk dance performances known as Fuchuu Hayashi (府中囃子). On 5 May, six large taiko drums lead eight mikoshi to their temporary resting place (御旅所 otabisho).

The sanctuary has many buildings and places of interest. Apart from the main shrine buildings, there are seven small shrines: Matsuo-jinja, Tatsumi-jinja, Tōshōgū-jinja, Sumiyoshi-jinja, Ōwashi-jinja, Miyanome-jinja and Inari-jinja. There is also a sumo ring, a Russo-Japanese War memorial and the ruins of the former provincial administration of Musashi Province.


Drum Tower

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Access: a 5-minute walk from Fuchū-Honmachi Station on the JR Nambu or Musashino lines; 5-minute walk from the South Exit of Fuchū Station on the Keio Line
Address: 3-1 Miyamachi, Fuchū, Tokyo 183-0023; phone: 042-3620-092.
Admission: open daily 06:30-17:00 (15 September - 31 March), 06:00 - 18:00 (1 April - 14 September); admission free.


Map: