In the name of Mars, I will chastise you!
Today’s outing took me to Hikawa Jinja. It’s one of the seemingly endless atmospheric and beautiful Shrines hidden all over Tokyo, but might be best known as the inspiration for the Shrine in the anime version of Sailor Moon – the home of Sailor Mars, where the gang often gathered to shoot the breeze and discuss their adventures.
There are several Hikawa Jinja in Tokyo (the main Shrine is in Saitama) – the one in Azubu-Juban was the inspiration for the manga version but this one, sandwiched among embassies and mansions in the hills between Roppongi and Akasaka, is considered far more photogenic. It’s a mere babe by Jinja standards – it just celebrated its 300th birthday in fact – and was the personal Shrine of shogun Tokugawa Yoshimune. It’s not known if he was a Sailor Moon fan but he is considered one of the best of the Tokugawa Shoguns (not a great lot in general, it’s true). He established much-needed financial reforms and relaxed the ban on foreign books, opening Japan up to a flood of texts from abroad.
On the way to the train I stumbled upon Nogi Shrine, which I’d never heard of although it actually has its own subway stop on the Chiyoda Line. Taking this as kismet I naturally stopped and had a look around, and was rewarded with my first Sakura sighting of the season – this weeping cherry near the Korean Dogs guarding the entrance. Nogi Shrine is even younger – less than a Century old – and enshrines a legendary Japanese general, Nogi Maresuke, who committed seppuku with his wife on the day the Emperor died, rather than live on in a world without him. Not surprisingly, he’s become something of a hero to the Nationalist movement. But if one avoided any Shrine that had Nationalist connections in Japan, you’d be crossing an awful lot of gems off your list…