When I was planning my third trip to Tokyo, I thought I would not discover anything new since I have crossed off a lot of the tourist attractions in my previous two trips.
I spent my second day wandering around Shinjuku, waiting for the evening to come so I could go to Ooedo Onsen Monogatari hot springs theme park.
My mind was numb as I walked from one street to another. All the buildings looked very much alike.
Suddenly, I spotted a patch of green between two buildings. I stopped in my tracks just before the traffic lights to look more clearly. Yes, it was indeed an entrance wedged between two tall concrete constructions.
I crossed the street to take a closer look. The name Hanazono Jinja was carved into a stone pillar. Hanazono shares the same Chinese character as “flower garden”, so I named it my secret garden shrine.
I was attracted to the hidden gates because it reminded me of Yuuko Ichihara’s house in xxxHoLic. A building (or empty field in the case of this screenshot) between two taller buildings.
I didn’t immediately go through the gates. Instead, I got a coffee at a cafe opposite the shrine.
While sipping my drink, I found out that the shrine was famous enough to be included on the map of the free guide pamphlet. However, there was no description of the place and why it was in the strange location.
After my latte, I crossed the road to the shrine. The path was shaded not so much by the trees but by the walls of the buildings.
At the end of the path, there was the “cleansing station” where visitors wash their hands and rinse their mouth.water.
Entering the shrine grounds
When I first walked into the shrine ground, I was expecting a small shrine at the end of the path, not a semi gigantic red shrine.
There was also a Treasure Room but I wasn’t sure what treasures could be hidden inside.
Similar to other Shinto shrines, Hanazono Jinja sold charms and ema. You write your wish on an ema and hang it up at the temple.
I didn’t quite get what the banner said but I thought the calligraphy was beautiful.
Praying to Inari
At Hanazono Shrine, there was a smaller shrine for Inari. You will recognize Inari shrines because of the red torii lined in front.
Compared to the grand main building, the Inari shrine was small and cute.
In front, two adult foxes guarded. I realized that the papa and mama foxes have little fox cubs with them. If these were Chinese stone lions, I expect one to have cubs while the other to have a golden ball to symbolize the female and male.
I left by the main entrance, which was large. I’m glad that I found secret Garden Shrine through its smaller entrance.