The shape of a heart marks a prominent “power spot for romance” in Tokushima. / Himemiya Shrine (Tokushima-shi, Tokushima)

This miraculous shrine is located at the foot of Mt. Bizan

Mt. Bizan is known as the symbol of Tokushima City.
“Tokushima Bizan Tenjin Shrine” which has been worshiped by local people for a few hundred years, is located at the foot of the mountain.
You can see the stone steps leading to the shrine on the side of the “Awaodori Kaikan.”

When you climb all the stairs up to the level of the shrine, please look at the ground there.
This is called the “Garden of the Kanji Character for Heart.”
I didn’t show you the photo here on purpose, but the stones are arranged to form the kanji character which stands for the heart.
People often don’t notice it if they haven’t heard of this episode.
This is one must-see feature of this shrine.

There is also a terrace facing toward the city center of Tokushima.
The ceiling there is called “The Ceiling of the Singing Heron” and it is said that this was built after a divine revelation from a deity.
If you clap your hands here and pray for your wish, then a singing heron may answer it.
If you hear the call of the heron, it is said that the wish inside of your heart will be delivered to the deity.

There is a statue of cow in front of the main building of the shrine, and it is called “The Cow of Wisdom (Rubbing Cow).”
It is said that you can gain wisdom as often as you rub it.

Moreover, there are several shrines on these grounds: “Tokushima Bizan Tenjin Shrine,” and “Inari Shrine” for good harvests and prosperous business, “Nine Daimyo-jin” which enshrines a female raccoon-dog with many children, and “Himemiya Shrine” which I introduce in this article.
Visitors come here and pray every season, and have never stopped coming.

“Himemiya-san” has been popular among women since long ago.

The approach to “Himemiya Shrine” can be found by looking for the place where many fortune slips are tied.
The approach has a gentle curve, and there are 22 stepping stones which are named the “Stepping Stones of a Married Couple.”
The shape of each stone is a heart!

You can find many more “hearts” scattered along the approach, even on the Torii gate and an offertory box.
That is because this shrine is known as a “power spot for romance” (power spot means a place which is thought to be flowing with mystical energy).
Many visitors from all over Japan come here and pray, especially for luck in matchmaking, having children, a happy marriage, and so on.

Local people are fond of “Himemiya Shrine” and call it “Himemiya-san.” It enshrines a huge sacred rock regarded as “one of the most prominent massive rocks of unusual shape and a superb, subtle and profound treasure.”
The rock had been there long before the establishment of this shrine, and it seems that it had been originally worshiped as a folk religion deity.
It is believed that the deity possesses miraculous powers for curing disease, therefore, people from all over Japan visit this shrine.
There is also the “Meoto-ishi (two rocks which look like a married couple)” enshrined here, standing as if getting along well together near the sacred rocks behind the Torii gate.

You can get fortune slips, talismans, and also beautiful handwritten “goshuin.”

The most popular fortune slip for women is the “Hime-mikuji,” meaning princess fortune slip, with a pretty kimono design.
3 colors are available: blue, yellow and the pink one shown in the photo.
You can check some unique features on this slip, such as “your princess rating,” “your man of destiny” and so on.
This is very characteristic of the “Himemiya Shrine.”

Don’t miss “omamori (talisman)” for good relationships, made of calm colored fabrics with flower-patters.
Other than these, there are also some kinds of talismans used to pray for being blessed with children and safe childbirth.
You can feel that any of these talismans give you the power of “Himemiya-san,” who is a deity for women.

Also, we would like you to check out the “goshuin,” a seal stamp given to worshippers and visitors to shrines (and temples), and each of these 4 shrines have a beautiful handwritten “goshuin” available.
The wife of the chief priest of the shrine writes them enthusiastically one by one, and the design, with a seasonal motif, is different each month.
You also can buy a beautiful original “goshuin” book, so maybe it is a good chance for you to start collecting “goshuin” from this shrine.

Himemiya Shrine
Address/2-2, Shinmachibashi, Tokushima-shi, Tokushima
Opens/Anytime (The stamp office is open from 9:30-16:30, and it is recommended that you make a reservation beforehand for the “goshuin” because each is handwritten on the spot)
Close/No holiday
Parking lot/Available

Photographs and text by Takashi Shigeto

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