Kumano Shrine's entrance, Jiyugakoa (Photo: Sam Hardwick)

Kumano Shrine, Jiyugaoka

Hidden Shrine with a mystic atmoshpere

Kumano Shrine's entrance, Jiyugakoa (Photo: Sam Hardwick)
Sam Hardwick   - 3 min read

Whilst in Tokyo I highly recommend visiting Jiyugaoka and exploring the streets. It’s a very popular location for shopping and generally relaxing for the day. It’s also a very sought after place to live! The main shopping street runs for a long stretch with trees lining the full length; this is a great place to see and meet the friendly locals. There are also many side streets with more boutiques, restaurants and cafés; all are extremely well presented and inviting.

Jiyugaoka has plenty of history and beauty in the area; some of which you won’t know about until its hit you. Whilst wandering around the side streets, I stumbled across the Kumano Shrine with an inviting gate hosting a long path away from the road.

It’s been very difficult trying to find information about this shrine. It appears to be one of those anomalies! It’s a well-known Shrine by the locals, it’s just that there’s little information about it online. The one recurring and easy fact I found is that this shrine is more than 800 years old. I also read that the shrine sponsors the local summer festival ‘Jiyugaoka International Friendship Mikoshi Festival’ in early September. This festival evidently is very accommodating to internationals, so if you’re around in September, look into it!

Entering the gate, you’ll follow a path through a mixture of Japanese zelkova and oak trees to some steps. Climbing the steps, the shrine buildings and monuments begin to emerge. The monuments and statues seem to be placed in quite random spots around the area, some almost out of sight so look hard! The ‘Ema’ wooden slabs are a good example of this; I only just noticed them behind a hedge. This all makes for a very mystic, unique and different feel to a shrine.

Jiyugaoka is in West Tokyo and easy enough to get to. Take the JR line from Shibuya station to Jiyugaoka station, and you’ll be there in just over 10 minutes.

I wish I could offer more information and history for this shrine. If anyone has any more information, feel free to comment and share it with the other readers! Either way, Kumano Shrine in Jiyugaoka is very beautiful and mystic, well worth a visit.

Sam Hardwick

Sam Hardwick @sam.hardwick

UK based documentary photographer working in editorial, travel and portrait. My work is heavily narrative driven taking focus on social and cultural connections between society and the environment. A strong travel element flows through my work with the aim to create visuals that capture both the ...