The historical reason this shrine in the heart of the city is becoming a must-visit for idol fans.

Just about every Shinto shrine in Japan that has priests and shrine maidens on the grounds also sells good luck charms called omamori. Depending on what specifically you’re asking the gods for, though, different shrines have earned reputations as being luckier than others. In Tokyo, for example, if you’re an aspiring scholar who’s hoping to pass your entrance exams, Kanda Myojin is the shrine you want to go to. On the other hand, Tokyo Daijingu is the place to buy your charm if you’re hoping to find the love of your life.

And Fukutoku Jinja Mebuki Inari? That’s the shrine to visit if you’re looking for divine assistance in scoring tickets to your favorite idol singer’s concert.

Fukutoku Shrine (to use the condensed version of its name) is located right in the middle of downtown Tokyo in the Nihonbashi neighborhood, about a block away from Mitsukoshimae Station on the Ginza and Hanzomon subway lines.

This is one of the most modernly developed parts of the city, but Fukutoku Shrine is a pleasant little green oasis that’s believed to have been originally founded somewhere around the year 865.

But wait, Japan didn’t have idol singers a millennium ago! So how did Fukutoku Shrine earn its reputation as a must-visit for idol fans who want to make sure they can get concert tickets before they sell out?

For that answer, we have to fast forward several centuries past when Fukutoku Shrine was first established, but still stop well before we get to our present point in human history. During the Edo period (1603-1867), some shrines in Tokyo held lotteries, which were called tomikuji. The Shogunate government didn’t allow every shrine in the city to run gambling operations, but Fukutoku Shrine was one of the few which was granted official permission.

Now if you’re going to a shrine to gamble, and that shrine also just so happens to sell good luck charms, you’re probably going to buy one for yourself, right? And if you end up winning, odds are you’re going to at least partially attribute your good fortune to the charm, and tell you friends about it too. So word of mouth spread that Fukutoku Shrine was a great place to buy omamori charms if you wanted to win a lottery, and eventually the shrine started selling omamori specifically for that purpose, which they called tomikuji mamori (“Lottery Charms”).

▼ Fukutoku Shrine’s omamori stand today, with the tomikuji mamori circled in red

Jump ahead to the present day, when idol singer fandom in Japan is bigger than ever. Demand regularly outstrips supply for tickets to concerts and meet-and-greet events, meaning that you generally can’t just buy them. Instead, you have to apply to purchase tickets, then once the application period ends, the organizers randomly select a certain number of lucky fans who are then allowed to complete the transaction and attend the event.

In other words, it’s a lottery system, and if Fukutoku Shrine’s special good luck charm is supposed to help you win a for-money lottery, it should help you win a for-idol-tickets one too, fans have surmised.

▼ The tomikuji mamori is decorated with images of koban, the gold coins used as currency during the Edo period.

Of course, if you love your favorite idol enough that you’re asking the gods to help forge a path to their concert for you, there’s a pretty good chance you’re willing to go out of town for the event, maybe even following them to multiple stops on their tour. For that reason, idol fans who visit Fukutoku Shrine to get a tomikuji mamori also pick up a tabi mamori, or “traveller’s charm,” to keep them safe on their journey out and the return trip home.

▼ The tabi mamori, circled in red

Both the tomikuji and tabi mamori are priced at 500 yen (US$4), pretty standard for good luck charms at shrines in Japan. For the truly devout fan, though, Fukutoku Shrine also offers a “ticket selection prayer ceremony,” in which a priest will bestow upon you a blessing in hopes of improving your chances at winning a ticket lottery, for 5,000 yen.

Shrine information
Fukutoku Jinja Mebuki Inari / 福徳神社 芽吹稲荷
Address: Tokyo-to, Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 2-4-14

Photos © SoraNews24
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