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Kagurazaka: A Town of Temples or Shrines?

Updated: Jun 1

Kagurazaka: Both a Shrine-Front and a Temple-Front Town

Kagurazaka: Named after the Sounds of 'Kagura' Music from Nearby Shrines

Kagurazaka Street was constructed by Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shogun. The name "Kagurazaka" is said to originate from the sound of “Kagura” music heard from the various nearby shrines. "Kagura" is a type of ceremonial music and dance performed during Shinto rituals to worship deities. During the Edo period, Kagurazaka was characterized by samurai residences, temple fronts, and geisha districts.

Is Kagurazaka a Town of Shrine Fronts?

From its name, one might assume Kagurazaka is a town of shrine fronts. Indeed, there are many shrines in the area, including Tsukudo Hachiman Shrine (built between 809-823), Akagi Shrine (built in 1300), Kagurazaka Wakamiya Hachiman Shrine (built in 1189), and Tokyo Daijingu (built in 1880). During the Edo period (1603-1868), Akagi Shrine was designated as one of the great shrines of Edo by the Tokugawa shogunate and garnered significant local devotion as the protective deity of the Ushigome area.

Kagurazaka: Both a Shrine-Front and a Temple-Front Town

Is Kagurazaka a Town of Temple Fronts?

However, Kagurazaka also has many temples. Koshoji Temple moved to the site of Ushigome Castle in 1645, Zenkoku-ji (also known as Bishamonten, moved from Kojimachi in 1792), Shozo-in, Ryumon-ji, and Enfuku-ji, among others. Particularly with the relocation of Zenkoku-ji, many shops from Kojimachi moved to Kagurazaka, gradually increasing the residential area. Additionally, a geisha district also developed around Gyogan-ji Temple (which moved to Gotanda in 1907), located near Bishamonten, turning the area into a lively and charming quarter. Originally a neighborhood of mostly samurai residences, Kagurazaka became bustling with people on the days Bishamonten held its temple festival day.

Kagurazaka: Both a Shrine-Front and a Temple-Front Town

In 1887, the temple festival day at Bishamonten in Kagurazaka saw the first implementation of a pedestrian paradise when carriages were banned, and it is said that the origin of street stalls during the temple festival day began within the precincts of Bishamonten. Bishamonten was indispensable to the development of Kagurazaka.

Kagurazaka: Both a Shrine-Front and a Temple-Front Town

Thus, although the name 'Kagurazaka' is derived from the shrines, given the significant role of Bishamonten and the surrounding temples in its development, Kagurazaka can be considered both a shrine-front and a temple-front town.

What is the difference between shrines and temples, then? In the next post, we will explore this question.

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How to Access Kagurazaka

The Kagurazaka area is conveniently located within 30 minutes from any major station in Tokyo. This is because Kagurazaka is situated in the heart of Tokyo, at the center of the Yamanote Line. Please come and visit this convenient and charming Kagurazaka.


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