- 3 Chome-10-3 Shoan, Suginami, Tokyo
- Distance from Station:
- 15 minutes on foot from JR Nishi-Ogikubo Station, South Exit
NISHI-TAKAIDO SHOAN INARI SHRINE
Maximum Inari Fox Shrine
[published March 2020]
Nishi-Takaido Shoan Inari Shrine is the chinjumori, a Guardian shrine, of Shoan Village. Nishi-Takaido is the old name of this area, but this name is no longer used nowadays because the town names have often been changed. The present name of this area is simply Shoan. The shrine is believed to have been founded in 1665. In those days it was within the compound of Enkoji Temple, but Enkoji Temple was abandoned around the Meiji Restoration (1868). However, local farmers wanted to have their guardian shrine again, and so on the same compound they established Nishi-Takaido Shoan Inari Shrine in 1936. An “Inari” Shrine is a type of Japanese shrine that worships a fox as a deity, which is why you will see foxes guardian statues at the front gate, however there is a deeper reason there are a particular large number of white Inari fox figures at this shrine.
The shrine is situated along Itsukaichi Highway, about 15 minutes on foot from the south exit of Nishi-Ogikubo Station. You pass the first torii, the stone or vermillion gate of a shrine, and then a hokora, a small shrine, can be seen on your left. In the hokora, the mummy of a fox is enshrined. The fox lived near the compound of the ancient Enkoji Temple. When Enkoji Shrine was dilapidated, the dead body of a fox was found under the floor of the temple. As farmers believed that a fox was the messenger of God, they worshiped and enshrined the dead fox. It is said that the mummy is placed on the cotton cushion, with its front paw in its mouth. However, since it is a delicate and sacred object, unfortunately the mummy is not exhibited to the public. Instead, on the floor of hokora, lots of fox figurines of different sizes are placed, dedicated by worshippers. Also, in the north of the compound there is a graveyard for the successive head priests of Enkoji Temple.
*If you want to get a goshuin, a scarlet seal issued by temples or shrines, you must go to Shimo-Takaido Hamadayama Hachiman Shrine, because there is no full-time Shinto priest in Nishi-Takaido Shoan Inari Shrine, so the goshuin stamp cannot be issued here.