Kisugo fish ema to pray against fevers (Photo: Chiara Terzuolo)

Tsuribune Shrine

Offer fish to the deity to get relief from fever

Kisugo fish ema to pray against fevers (Photo: Chiara Terzuolo)
Chiara Terzuolo   - 2 min read

There is a little spot is on the grounds of Kochi Hachimangu Shrine that is literally called 'fishing boat shrine.' According to ancient tales, when fishing boats went out into the bay nearby, there would be huge schools of little whiting fish. One day when fishermen pulled up their nets, among the fish was a sacred Shinto object, which was enshrined here.

Interestingly, the deity of the shrine is not associated with safety at sea, but rather with the power to cure fevers. People came (and still do) from far and wide to beg for relief. The shrine is particularly popular during exam season, when stressed out students visit to pray that no sudden fevers will cause them to miss their tests.

It is customary to offer the deity some whiting fish, known as kisugo. But don't fret if you don’t have fresh fish stashed away in your bag, as there are ema prayer plaques with images of the little fish where you can write down your prayer to the deity. Inside the shrine, the walls are covered with drawings, photos, ema and even little figures of fish!

However, they aren't the only critters you can spot at Kochi Hachimangu Shrine. A large stone monument carved with a katsuo bonito fish stands as a memorial to all the fish eaten in this katsuo no tataki-loving region. Next to it you will also find memorial stones for old knives and chopsticks, and each year a memorial service is held for these three essential parts of daily life in Kochi.

Make sure to check out all the large ema plaques displayed on the various buildings around the grounds. See if you can spot all 12 animals from the Japanese zodiac. My personal favorites are the paintings of a dancing mouse and mouse wedding, along with the ever dramatic tiger!

Getting there

The shrine is a 9-minute walk from Kochi Station, on the main road that leading to the center of town.

Chiara Terzuolo

Chiara Terzuolo @terzuolo.chiara