Attractions

Hokkaido Shrine

Hokkaido Shrine

Travel Guide

Hokkaido Shrine, or Hokkaido Jingu in Japanese, is a one of the most popular Japanese temples and the largest shrine in situated in the beautiful Muruyama Park in central Sapporo. This 25 acre park includes a 700 foot hill, and virgin wood featuring giant Elm and cypress trees.

The shrine itself is constructed in a modern shinmei zukuri style similar to Miyazaki Jingu and Atsuta Jingu, with unpainted wood, a copper sheet roof shaped in imitation of a thatched roof, many chigi and katsuogi and a very large haiden, housing Emperor Meiji as well as three other deities. The long straight sando and the shrine itself, unusually face northeast.

Shrine is not only a place for praying for good fortune, but is also called a Power Spot, a place where we can get natural powers from the Earth.

People visit the Hokkaido Shrine on celebratory occasions such as weddings and New Year’s Day. People may come here to receive blessings when they or their children reach certain ages. When they have bought a new car, they bring it to get a blessing for its safety.

Its 180,000-square-meter precincts are also known as one of the best cherry blossom-viewing spots. In Spring 1,500 of cherry trees beautifully bloom here, and it's one of Hokkaido's most popular locations for cherry blossom viewing.

Until the late 19th century, was known as Ezochi, and was where the ethnic Ainu people developed their own unique culture. In 1869, when the government abolished the Han (feudal domain) system and replaced with prefectures to make progress in centralizing political authority, Ezochi was renamed and became a directly controlled territory of the government.

The same year, Meiji Emperor issued the imperial rescript to build a new shrine in Hokkaido. At that time, Japanese government began to develop Hokkaido, and a guardian god was needed. The Torii gate (main gate) was set up on the northeast side of the shrine. Because, Russia was advancing to the northeast of through Sakhalin and Kurile Islands. This Hokkaido Shrine was the guardian to defend against Russia.

Emperor Meiji selected three protecting deities of the reclamation of (God of Okunitama, God of Onamuchi and God of Sukunahikona) and enshrined them here. After 2 years of work, Hokkaido Shrine was constructed in 1871, but was initially given the name of Sapporo Shrine, or Sapporo Jinja in Japanese. From 1889 through 1946, Sapporo Shrine was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha, meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines. In 1964 the soul of Emperor Meiji was enshrined and the shrine was renamed Hokkaido Shrine. Because of its history, Sapporo Shrine is the most important shrine in Sapporo even though it is a young shrine when compared to others. In 1974 the building was destroyed by fire, but was rebuilt in 1978.

Hokkaido Shrine - main shrine Hokkaido Shrine - Ema Hokkaido Shrine - Chozuya
Main shrine Ema Chozuya
 
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Travel Advice

Sightseeing


omamori- Hokkaido Shrine has boy and girl scouts, and Kendo class which is rare in shrine.

- Just like the others, amulet, which is Omamori in Japanese, sold in Sapporo Shrine has special design such as Hello Kitty. The amulet generally will provide blessings and protection such as physical health, traffic safety, education and passing examinations.

- Miko are the shrine maidens in Japan. In ancient times, women who went into trances and conveyed the words of a god were called miko, not unlike the Oracle at Delphi of ancient Greece. Later, miko were young female attendants at Shinto shrines. Roles of the miko include performing in ceremonial dances 巫女舞 (dance of the priestess, miko-mai) and assisting priests in wedding ceremonies. Today miko can be found at many Shinto shrines. Their duties include assisting with shrine events, performing dances and rituals, and fortune-telling.

- Ema are small wooden plaques on which Shinto worshippers write their prayers or wishes. The ema are then left hanging up at the shrine, where the kami (spirits or gods) receive them. In ancient times people would donate horses to the shrines for good favor, over time this was transferred to a wooden plaque with a picture of a horse, and later still to the various wooden plaques sold today for the same purpose.

- Rokkatei has a branch in the Hokkaido Shrine. Rokkatei is one of the most famous confectionery company in Hokkaido. They offer tasty cookies, cakes, chocolate, and other sweets. Visitors will be served with a cup of tea and a piece of delicious red bean mochi called Hogan-sama for free. Hogan-sama is provided only here and be sold at Maruyama branch of Rokkatei.

- The best time to visit Sapporo Shrine is during the New Year holidays at the beginning of January when people go to pray for the coming year. People throw coins into the offering box as monetary gifts for the shrine, drink a bit of Omiki (sacred Sake), buy paper fortunes (omikuji) and write their wishes on a piece of wood called Ema. These are all typical elements of the Japanese New Year's ceremony throughout the country.

- The Japanese are said that to be polytheistic. They celebrate Christmas but many of them also visit temples to honour their ancestors, and most Japanese also follow Shintoist traditions by visiting a shrine on New Year's Day to pray for good fortune in the coming year.

- Shrine enshrined three deities considered deities of land reclamation. Okuniama, Onamuchi and Sukunahikona are referred to as the kaitaku sanshin (sanjin), and these same three kami were enshrined in shrines in Taiwan and other countries. Originally these deities are related to Susano-o and Izumo. However in the Meiji period, they came to represent an imagined pure and ancient form of Shinto, which the Meiji government was eager to promote. Shinto is a very ancient religion recognizing the gods in the whole universe. These gods are symbolized by the sun.

- The appellation jingu is considered by many only to apply to Ise—which is called simply Jingu. But the Meiji government, anxious to promote a nationwide shrine system with Ise Jingu at the head, and the emperor at the head of all, gave this designation to a number of shrines during the late 1800's. Most, some as Miyazaki Jingu and Atsuta Jingu, had ancient links to the imperial myths of the Kojiki and Nihon shoki. Others, such as Heian Jingu and Meiji Jingu (created in the Taisho Era), did not. This highest designation of kanpei taisha came to encompass sixty seven shrines. Ise stood above and apart from this ranking.

Temple etiquette

Visitors need to follow the temple etiquette. Traditionally, before you enter the shrine, you are supposed to purify yourself at a little basin, usually covered by a roof, with a dragon or a bamboo pipe sprouting water, outside the main entrance to the temple. The purification pavilion is called Chouzuya in Japanese.  

Please follow the steps;

  1. Use a ladle to first clean your right hand with a little water, making sure the water falls on the ground and not in the basin.
  2. Change hand and clean the left one.
  3. You then cup your right hand and pour a little water in it to rinse your mouth. Do not drink from the ladle.
  4. Spit the water discreetly on the ground, not the basin, covering your mouth with your hand.
  5. Finally, hold the ladle vertically to let the rest of the content pour down the handle to purify it for the next person and place it back on the stand in the basin. If there is a towel hanging around the basin, feel free to use it to dry your hands.

Please follow the steps to make a wish;

  1. Bow toward the main idol, as a sign of respect. You can put your luggage besides your feet.
  2. It is better to remove your hat inside. It is not necessary but it is a sign of respect to uncover your head.
  3. Throw money in the collection box and then ring the bell. You can throw anything from 5 Yen to 500 Yen, or less & over. Some people throw 5 Yen because 5 Yen pronounce “Goen”and the the fate in Japanese has the same pronunciation.
  4. After ringing the bell, clap your hands twice, bow once and pray silently.
  5. When you are done praying, bow once more, clap your hands once and back away from the place.
  6. When leaving the building where an idol is, turn toward it at the door and bow once in respect.

Omikuji

Omikuji are random fortunes written on strips of paper at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. The way you obtain your omikuji feels like a lottery. These are usually received by making a small offering (generally 100 Yen). Traditionally you had to shake a small box until a small bamboo stick fell out. The stick had a number on it and according to the number you were given an omikuji by the priest or miko. This is still possible nowadays, but more common are boxes that are located somewhere on the temple / shrine ground.

A long time ago the omikuji were used as decision guidance. People wanted to know from the god of a shrine if their plan is going to be successful or not. Thus, the omikuji were born.

The omikuji is scrolled up or folded, and unrolling the piece of paper reveals the fortune written on it. After this general statement the paper strip will also inform you about your chances in finding a new job, love, about your future health, business success and more in greater detail. Omikuji are traditionally written in poem form and many are based on the Chinese Poems written by the Buddhist monk Tendai. Therefore, omikuji is written in difficult Japanese. In some bigger shrines / temples they also have English omikuji, but they are still not very common.

It includes a general blessing which can be any one of the following:

  • Great blessing (dai-kichi, 大吉)
  • Middle blessing (chu-kichi, 中吉)
  • Small blessing (shou-kichi, 小吉)
  • Blessing (kichi, 吉)
  • Half-blessing (han-kichi, 半吉)
  • Future blessing (sue-kichi, 末吉)
  • Future small blessing (sue-shou-kichi, 末小吉)
  • Curse (kyou, 凶)
  • Small curse (shou-kyou, 小凶)
  • Half-curse (han-kyou, 半凶)
  • Future curse (sue-kyou, 末凶)
  • Great curse (dai-kyou, 大凶)

Generally, great blessing means the best blessing and great curse is the worst.

Not every temple has the same kinds of blessing as above, some temples only have seven kinds of blessing as following:

  • Great blessing (dai-kichi, 大吉)
  • Middle blessing (chu-kichi, 中吉)
  • Small blessing (shou-kichi, 小吉)
  • Blessing (kichi, 吉)
  • Future blessing (sue-kichi, 末吉)
  • Curse (kyou, 凶)
  • Great curse (dai-kyou, 大凶)

When the prediction is bad, it is a custom to fold up the strip of paper and attach it to a pine tree or a wall of metal wires alongside other bad fortunes in the temple or shrine grounds. A purported reason for this custom is a pun on the word for pine tree (松 matsu) and the verb 'to wait' (待つ matsu), the idea being that the bad luck will wait by the tree rather than attach itself to the bearer. Nowadays, they’re not only tied to pine trees anymore, but to all sorts of things. One reason is that not all shrines or temples have a pine tree in the first place.

In the event of the fortune being good, people can also tie it to the tree or wires so that the fortune has a greater effect or people can keep it for luck. But usually you’re supposed to keep it close to you, e.g. in your purse.

From the Edo Period onwards the tying to the tree was associated with “縁を結ぶ, en wo musubu” which means “connecting with s.b.” – in this case with the god of the shrine / temple. In Japanese the word “musubu” is used for “to connect” as well as for “to tie“. That’s why some people tie their good fortune strips instead of taking it home.

However, the rules for it are not very strict. For many people it doesn’t have a religious background, but is more 斗ochfor fun Whenever you visit a temple or shrine you’ll see hundreds if not thousands of those paper strips!

Omikuji shouldn’t be confused with ema. While both of them are often put together or right next to each other, they are two completely different things.

 
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Visit

Address 474 Miyagaoka, Chuo-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido.
Phone 011-611-0261
Admission Free  
Hours Hokkaido Shrine
Free time

Jinmon (the gate of main shrine)
00:00 to 19:00  New year’s day
06:00 to 18:00  Jan 2 to 3
06:00 to 16:00  Jan 4 to 7
07:00 to 16:00  Jan 8 to 31
07:00 to 16:00  Feb 1 to 14
07:00 to 16:30  Feb 15 to March 31
06:00 to 17:00  Apr 1 to Oct 15
06:00 to 16:30  Oct 15 to 31
07:00 to 16:00  Nov 1 to Dec 31
 
Closed Open 7 Days a Week
Required Time 20 minutes
Getting There By Train
15 minute walk from Maruyama Park Station on subway Tozai Line.
1 minute walk from Jingumae Teiryujo Station on JR Bus Nishi 14 or Nishi 15.

By Car
Take Hokkaido Expressway to the Sapporominami exit. It is approximately 30 minutes from exit.
Parking Paid parking available
 
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Attractions in Japan

 
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