If you would like to visit shinto shrines in Hokkaido, Sapporo’s Hokkaido Shrine, known as Hokkaido Jingu, is of most importance for the city, as well as visitors coming from close and afar. Thousands of visitors travel each year to visit the shrine commemorating Emperor Meiji, with beautiful picturesque sceneries surrounding the religious grounds. Located in the beautiful Maruyama Park area, almost in the city center, the shrine is not only home to the soul of Emperor Meiji, but also three other gods that are known to protect the island of Hokkaido and its people.
Shrine Upfront. Photo by Yuki Shimazu on Flickr
What to Experience
Hokkaido Shrine was built in 1869 after orders from Emperor Meiji to enshrine three deities, that were originally enshrined in Tokyo. The soul of the emperor himself was enshrined as late as 1964. With four deities inhabiting the shrine, many religious activities take place all year round.Hokkaido Shrine is home to the Sapporo Festival, a religious Shinto festival that takes place every summer. Every June 16th the shrine welcomes thousands of visitors all dressed up in costumes representing the Heian period of Japan’s history. Visitors will then form a parade that walks around the city center for this all day.
Other than this festival, and several other traditional Shinto practices, like for example Hatsumode (New Years), shrine festivals and Shinto weddings, the area of the shrine is great for sightseeing, long walks, and relaxation. The closeness to Maruyama Park makes it easy to combine park life with touristy exploration.
Popular Cherry Blossom Spot
The area of the shrine is around 180,000 m², thus being an integral part of Maruyama Park. The area around the shrine is also popular for being a beautiful cherry blossom spot, and Sapporo’s most popular hanami gathering spot. As the cherry blossoms arrive quite late in Hokkaido, around the beginning to mid-May, the area around the shrine will fill up with the local population viewing and celebrating the arrival of the cherry blossoms. During this time, there is high activity around the shrine, with food stalls and vendors appearing all around the shrine area. The shrine can become quite packed during this time, so if you want a great hanami spot, be sure to arrive early to ensure a good location.
How to Get There
Hokkaido Jingu can easily be accessed by taking the subway to Maruyama Koen Station on the orange Tozai subway line. Most exits at Maruyama Park Station will direct you to one of the entrances of the shrine. Exit 3 is the easiest in locating the shrine, directing you to the entrance inside the Maruyama Park. If you are walking from the city center, an approximately 20 minute walk, walking straight ahead from Odori Park, will take you to the shrine while allowing you to experience the entire of Odori Park. This long walk is especially recommended in the summer time. The area around the shrine has department stores, an art museum, cafes and restaurants enabling people who visit the shrine to make a whole day out of their visit to Hokkaido Jingu.