Looking at what's probably the main hall of Atsuta Shrine, with no other people there

Photo:the.Firebottle on Flickr

Nagoya Atsuta Shrine

When I moved to Nagoya, Japan I didn’t expect to have much to do. It’s a big city, sure. But compared to party towns like Osaka and Tokyo there’s not a lot. Luckily for me, I moved into a share house that used to be a hotel, which includes twenty natives.

Those share mates of mine are often on the prowl for a good time in Nagoya. When I’m not busy I’ll get to join them on adventures. Mostly because of that group, I’ve managed to have a ton of fun in the city. Which brings me to the topic: Where should you go first?

Photo: Laura Tomàs Avellana on Flickr

I asked locals, “Where’s the best place to go?” After being told by everyone and their grandma that I had to visit the Atsuta Shrine, I convinced some of my share mates to go there with me. At first I thought we’d have to wait for a warmer season, but it turns out the shrine is a nice place to go to no matter the time of year. There are also events there periodically, such as the first Shinto shrine visit for the New Year: Hatsumōde. My favorite time of the year to go to a shrine is sakura season, which is when cherry blossoms begin to show up. Some people head to shrines when it rains so they can feel closer to nature. In short, it’s always a good time to see the Atsuta Shrine.

Atsuta Shrine
Atsuta Shrine

From the wood carved gate of the shrine alone, there’s clearly a glorious sight to behold. But as my share mates pointed out, don’t enter without bowing first. And the same goes for exiting. It’s considered rude to go in and leave a shrine without paying respect.

My share mates and I trekked over to a fortuneteller first. I’d never tried such a thing, yet when in Japan . . .

I had to shake a wooden box and pull out a scroll. Every word was in Japanese. One of my share mates read my trinket. He said I’d gotten the best kind of fortune. Love would find me; wealth would find me, etc. Still waiting.

Atsuta Shrine Gate
Atsuta Shrine Gate

We continued our exploration. Atsuta Shrine was huge, each part memorable and unique, such as the luck stone that you toss water at three times. People all-around were happy. I saw why when we reached a wedding nearby. That’s right! In Japan, there are weddings in shrines.

Some attendees wore modern suits and dresses. There were a few people in traditional Japanese gowns. As the wedding recital passed us, strangers applauded the new bride and groom.

A wedding in a shrine didn’t look cheap either. There were several photographers. Everyone was in expensive outfits. One of my share mates made yakuza hair dew jokes because some of the men had spent way too much money on their styles — just like a Japanese gangster would.

Atsuta Shrine Wedding
Atsuta Shrine Wedding

Together, my share mates and I enjoyed a day at the Atsuta Shrine and happened to see a wedding. It’s truly a beautiful shrine and worthy of the hype from locals. No wonder people call Atsuta Shrine the number one place to visit in Nagoya.

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