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05/29 Arts Culture Tourism from Tokyo
Hanazono-jinja Summer 'Reitaisai' festival & Shinjuku-sanchome
Welcome to NOTEBOOK, a cultural guide to art, design and architecture, along with a resource of local news and information in English giving a realistic view of Tokyo and further afield.
05/29 – Films by Japan’s Studio Ghibli will be removed from the Russian streaming service Kinopoisk as Russia's war in Ukraine drags on, that’s according to Tass, the Russian state news agency. The Japanese actor Koji Yakusho was named Best Actor at this year's Cannes International Film Festival on Saturday for his leading role in Wim Wenders’ latest film, “Perfect Days.” And in currency news the yen slumped to 140 yen against the dollar, marking the lowest it's been in almost six months.
Following on from recent festivals in Kanda and Asakusa, Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku holds its annual Grand Festival — or reitaisai.
This mikoshi (golden temple) passing through the streets of Shinjuku-sanchome is carried on the shoulders of local volunteers from nearby bars and restaurants, so many of the faces jump out to anyone that visits the area on a regular basis. This happens to be just outside of Saisei-sakaba standing bar with premises on both sides of the street. Saisei-sakaba is also a few doors down from Suehirotei, one of the last remaining rakugo theatres left in Shinjuku, a mainstay for comedians and storytellers dating back to the Meiji period and the early 1900s.
The festival can be seen from the main steps of Hanazono-jinja (shrine) looking back across the Shrine grounds.
In the other direction is Golden Gai sitting immediately behind the main shrine building so Hanazono forms a mental midway point — or headache — between Golden Gai night life and Kabukicho with Shinjuku-sanchome the opposite way.
The name of Hanazono first appeared in historical documents in 1803. “Hanazonosha” was written on a plaque dedicated by the town of Naito-Shinjuku in the hope of restoring the shrine following a major fire. The name Hanazono did not become official until much later, when it was also called Inari Shrine or Sankoin Inari, and in the Edo period it was also called Yotsuya Oiwake Inari, after the name of the area.
The combined name of Sankoin Inari is said to have come from when shrines and Buddhist temples were enshrined beliefs amalgamated, with Hanazonosha enshrined at Sanko-in in Koganei to the west of Tokyo.
Following the end of military rule in Japan after political revolution in 1868, imperial rule was restored under Emperor Meiji, and trade with foreign countries became a bid for social reform. The newly appointed Meiji government’s first decree in March of that year, the order to separate Shintoism from Buddhism as well as a move to abolish Buddhism, with Sanko-in separated from Hanazono Shrine.
A clerical error lead to it’s official name being changed to Muraja Inari Shrine for the entire Meiji period (1868-1912), when the shrine accidentally omitting characters for Hanazono and submitted documents under the name Inari Shrine instead.
As the shrine had already been referred to as 'Hanazono-sha' representatives appealed to the Tokyo governor to change its name in January of 1916 and a month later the shrine was renamed Hanazono Inari Shrine. In 1965, the smaller Ootori-jinja shrine was rebuilt on the grounds of Hanazono and incorporated into its new official name, Hanazono-jinja.
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