Atsuta Jingu: A Shrine Hidden Within A Metropolis
Atsuta Shrine, commonly referred to as Atsuta-Jingu or Atsuta-Sama is a Shinto shrine hidden within Nagoya, Aichi and is often known as one of the three main shrines of Honshu island, the others being Meiji Shrine in Tokyo and Ise Shrine in Mie. Atsuta Shrine attracts around 9 million visitors a year and plays host to numerous festivals all year round, the most notable being Rei Sai - a festival where portable tabernacles (mikoshi) in various styles are carried along through the shrine and at night, over 365 lanterns are lit near the gate to appear as if they are floating.
Aside from its festivals, Atsuta is also famous for being home to Kusanagi no Tsurugi - an ancient sword who's origins descend into legend but reportedly first came into existence around 688. Kusanagi no Tsurugi is one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan and is the symbol of valor. There is still debate as to the actual existence of Kusanagi no Tsurugi as it has never been shown publicly or seen in the modern era but it's believed location is to be deep within Atsuta Shrine. The legend surrounding the sword and its connection to Atsuta shrine has only helped to add to the mystique and importance of the shrine. Ever since then, Atsuta has been especially revered throughout Japan, ranking only behind Ise shrine. The shrine is visited by high ranking officials every year and is particularly beloved by the locals of Nagoya.
Atsuta Shrine is famous for being beautiful all year round. Cherry blossoms can be seen during the spring, the autumn foliage is breathtaking and multiple festivals are held there during the summer. During New Years celebrations, residents and travelers from all over Japan come to Atsuta shrine to pray for good luck and to receive their Omikuji (Fortunes). One of the most enchanting features of Atsuta shrine is its geographical location. It's hidden right within the heart of the city, one station away from one of Nagoya's busiest hubs. Surrounding the shrine is also a number of busy streets, stores and railways yet Atsuta always manages to remain completely secluded. Hidden within greenery and walled off from the rest of the city by trees, stepping into Atsuta feels like you've teleported to another place. Its amazing how instantaneous the feeling is; this being one of the main reasons why Atsuta is so popular with locals. Atsuta's relationship with nature is so important that it has now renowned as a protector of agriculture. This is shown through its many festivals which revolve around the agriculture industry and a divine connection to harvest.
Atsuta Shrine can be accessed via the Meitetsu Nagoya Line via Jingumae Station, where the shrine can be reached by a 3 minute walk. It can also be accessed via Jingunishi station on the Meijo Subway line. Once you get off it's a 5 minute walk to the shrine.