Toyokawa Inari (Myogonji Temple)

One of japan‘s “big three” Inari shrines is actually a Buddhist temple

Toyokawa Inari Shrine, located in Toyokawa-cho, Toyokawa-shi, Aichi-ken, is one of Japan’s most picturesque religious sites. This shrine is part of the “big three” Inari shrines in Japan, along with Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto and Kasama Inari Shrine in Ibaraki. However, what sets Toyokawa Inari Shrine apart from the others is that it is not actually a Shinto shrine dedicated to the Inari deity, but rather a Buddhist temple of the Soto sect.

The history of Toyokawa Inari Shrine dates back to 1441, when it was founded by the monk Tokai Gieki. During this period, Japan was experiencing a religious syncretism, where Buddhism was starting to take hold in the country. This syncretism continued until the Meiji Restoration, when there was a separation of Shinto and Buddhism.

Despite being a Buddhist temple, Toyokawa Inari Shrine still attracts millions of visitors every year. One of the main reasons for its popularity is the unique blend of Buddhist and Shinto elements found throughout the shrine. As you enter the shrine, you are greeted by a pair of ferocious Buddhist Nio temple guardians, standing tall at the entrance. These guardians symbolize the protection of the Buddhist teachings.

After passing through the entrance, visitors can explore the various structures and offerings within the shrine. One of the highlights is Myogen Temple, which houses the effigy of the Thousand-Handed Senju Kannon. This statue is a sight that many visitors miss, as it is located down the steps to the right of the main shrine. The statue represents compassion and is an important deity in both Buddhism and Shinto.

As you continue your journey through the shrine, you will come across the sacred copse and the Okuno-in pavilion. Behind the pavilion, you will find the Reiko-Zuka, a hillside covered in stone fox messengers. These foxes, dressed in bright red bibs, are a symbol of Inari, the Shinto deity of rice, agriculture, and prosperity. Despite being a Buddhist temple, Toyokawa Inari Shrine still maintains these Shinto elements, creating a unique and harmonious blend of both religions.

Aside from the religious aspects, Toyokawa Inari Shrine also offers a culinary experience for visitors. The street leading to the shrine’s entrance is lined with a variety of restaurants and souvenir shops. One of the local treats to sample is the Inari zushi, which are sweet pouches of fried tofu filled with sushi rice. These pouches are believed to be a favorite of the stone foxes at Toyokawa Inari Shrine.

Getting to Toyokawa Inari Shrine is relatively easy. It is accessible by train, with the nearest station being Toyokawa-inari Station. From Meitetsu Nagoya Station, you can take a train bound for Toyohashi and change at Ko Station. The shrine is just a three-minute walk from Toyokawa-inari Station.

In conclusion, Toyokawa Inari Shrine is a unique religious site in Japan. Despite being a Buddhist temple, it incorporates elements of Shintoism, creating a harmonious blend of both religions. The picturesque surroundings, including the stone fox messengers and the Thousand-Handed Senju Kannon, make it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Whether you are interested in religious history, cultural exploration, or culinary delights, Toyokawa Inari Shrine offers a truly immersive experience. Visit this multi-faith shrine and immerse yourself in the beauty and spirituality that it has to offer.

Address And Maps Location:

Toyokawa-cho, Toyokawa-shi, Aichi-ken

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