Yanesen area vol.1: Nezu shrine

By Yoshi, December 5, 2010

Yanaka (やなか, 谷中), Nezu (ねず, 根津), Sendagi (せんだぎ, 千駄木) area, called “Yanesen (やねせん, 谷根千)” is very good at walking around. “Yanesen” is a coined acronym consisting of the initial “Kanji” of this 3 areas’ names. The area still has historical townscape and 60 temple/shrines.
“Nezu shrine” (根津神社) built in 1706, is one of 10 famous shrines in Tokyo and designated as a nationally important cultural property. (Nezu shrine: 5 min. walk from Nezu station on subway Chiyoda line)



You can see many beautiful red gates called “Torii” (とりい, 鳥居) in this shrine.

These gates are offered to this shrine to pray for special wishes such as safe driving, business success, or good health by companies, stores, or people.

Their wishes and names are written on poles of the gates.

And you can see many wooden tablets as well (not only at this shrine).

They are calld “Ema” (えま, 絵馬). “Ema” literally means “a picture of a horse.” In antiquity, it was said that people offered real horses to shrines to pray for special wishes. But since ordinary people couldn’t afford to offer horses, they started offering wooden tablets with pictures of horses on them. Today, people write down their wishes on the blank side of an “Ema” and hang it in a shrine, where it will stay until the end of the year. Most “Ema” don’t have drawings of horses on them but the crest of a shrine.

I’m not sure how much we need to offer the gate, but “Ema” is less than 500 yen. If you have special wishes, please offer “Ema”.

Yanesen area has many places I want to indroduce. To be continued later!