Pray the rain away at special weather shrine in Tokyo.

Koenji is a district in Tokyo’s Suginami ward, known for its underground music scene and tasty restaurants. That makes it one of our crack reporter Mr. Sato’s favorite places in the capital for urban exploring. At this point, Mr. Sato considers himself something of an expert when it comes to Koenji, so you can imagine his surprise when he stumbled across a shrine in his neighbourhood that claims to be the only one of its kind in all Japan.

While we’ve come across shrines dedicated to blessing your pets, making you rich and severing ties, Koenji’s Kisho Shrine is dedicated entirely to praying for good weather.

Kisho (気象) in Japanese means ‘weather’, so Kisho Shrine literally translates as ‘Weather Shrine‘.  Kisho Shrine is itself located within the grounds of Koenji Hikawa Shrine, which is about a five minute walk from Koenji Station. Mr. Sato walks past this shrine every day and had no idea that it even existed, so he was interested to know why such a special shrine was here in his neighbourhood.

According to the shrine’s website, the shrine dates back to World War II. The Japanese Army’s meteorological department was located in north Koenji, and during that time weather played an important role in creating military strategies. After the war ended, the shrine was supposed be removed, but the shrine’s current Chief Priest’s grandfather allowed the shrine to instead be relocated to within the Hikawa Shrine grounds. The shrine was refurbished in June 2004, on the 55th anniversary of its relocation to the Hikawa Shrine grounds.

So what kind of things are you supposed to pray for at such a unique shrine? Well, according to the website, many people ask if there’s any special kind of prayer to stop themselves being an ame otoko or ame onna. Someone who is an ame otoko (literally ‘rain man’) or an ame onna (‘rain woman’) is said to bring rain with them wherever they go. While the shrine doesn’t offer any prayers to rid anyone of their ame status, writing down their wish on the shrine’s special ema (wooden plaques) might help.

The plaques are shaped like geta, a traditional Japanese sandal, because children used to predict the weather by kicking their geta high into the air. If the geta landed the right way up, it meant good weather was on the way.

As well as the wooden plaques, the shrine offers a variety of omamori protection amulets. Mr. Sato doesn’t mind the rain as such, but he was intrigued by one amulet in particular — this golden teru teru bozu.

Teru teru bozu are little dolls crafted from white cloth or tissue paper that are usually made by children right before a big event, in the hope that they will bring good weather and keep the skies rain-free. Kisho Shrine offers some mini teru teru bozu charms with red and blue ribbons, and twice a year there are limited-edition gold and silver teru teru bozu charms for 1,000 yen (US$7.81) each.

These gold and silver charms are only available in January and June (when the shrine holds their annual festival). The charms come with a prayer, wishing the owner’s heart to “shine as radiantly as the sun itself”.

Teru teru bozu are supposed to keep the rain away, but regardless of the weather they’re still nice to look at, and carrying them around with you is sure to cheer you up, even on the rainiest of days.

If you find yourself in the Koenji neighbourhood (which Mr. Sato assures us is full of friendly people and Michelin-worthy places to eat), Kisho Shrine is a must-see, especially if you’re in the area in either January or June.

Shrine information
Kisho Shrine / 気象神社
Address: Tokyo-to, Suginami-ku, Koenji Minami 4-44-19
Open: 9a.m. – 5:00p.m.

Images: ©SoraNews24 
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