Some highly religious and dedicated folks make long pilgrimages to far off shrines, temples, and major religious sites. Visiting temple after temple. Retracing the steps of ancient holy men. Casting out external distractions. There’s one such pilgrimage that every otaku who visits Japan must make.
Washinomiya shrine is one such ancient shrine and is actually the oldest shrine of Saitama Prefecture. Once even visited by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. But to an otaku. This is the shrine in which the miko (shrine maiden) Hiiragi sisters Kagami and Tsukasa from the anime Lucky Star work. This image is actually featured in the opening credits and many cosplayers come here to reenact that famous scene of Kagami strutting towards the screen with the music.
It is called a pilgrimage because it is quite a ways away from Tokyo. I went January last year and I remember it taking about 2 hours or so from Tokyo. I’ll give directions on how to get there at the end of this article. This picture is a fan made map showing how to get to the Washinomiya shrine from the train station. When you are at the station, you head straight out and cross a bridge. After the bridge, you get to a stop light. At the stop light turn left and keep walking until you see it. Not far.
A painting of the layout of the shrine. It actually wasn’t that big of a shrine but it was pretty big for such a small city so far away from Tokyo. The city of Washinomiya was so quiet when I went. Kind of creepy quiet. No sounds of cars, people, or anything else. I saw maybe one person until I got at the shrine. Like a ghost town. But with this shrines now well know popularity, that may have changed since I visited last.
Here’s a bit of what the shrine looked like. I recognized a lot of it from the anime. The actual shrine itself is a bit plain though compared to the rest of the site.
One of the best parts of an anime shrine visit is the artwork left on these…forget what there called. ^_^;
Love that Reimu Konata in the right hand corner!
Well drawn. Wish I could actually draw like some of these Japanese folks can. Must be all the complex Kanji writing.
More Kagami Cuteness.
That’s Washinomiya shrine. When I went, the shrine had not reached the level of reknown that it now has. Because of this, I stood out A LOT as a white Gaijin. I had a hilarious picture of a Japanese laughing at me taking pics and just plain being there. Wish I didn’t erase it.
The reason I posted this now is because I am in the Lucky Star mood. Going to post one more Lucky Star article in a few minutes.
Oh, directions first.
1.) Your first step is to get to Asakusa station. I got there by way of the Keiku line starting at Yokosuka-Chou station and got off at Shinagawa. There are trains on the Keikyu line that will take you a few more stops towards Asakusa. Just ride them as far as you can then wait for yet another train to take you all the way to Asakusa.
2.) For folks who are not sailors stationed in Yokosuka, just ride the Yamanote line until you hear the English speaking announcements say you have a connect to the Asakusa line (probably Shimbashi).
3.) Once in Asakusa station, follow the signs to Tobu line transfers. Exit the station and look for a large building labeled Matsuya Department Store. Go to the second deck and buy a ticket for 700 yen.
4.) Get on a non-local train to Kuki. At least 2 times on the way to Kuki the train will stop and many people will go to the opposite train. Follow them, if the train says to Kuki. That one is the faster express. Once at Kuki, transfer across to the local train towards Ota. It will be waiting for you. The first stop is Washinomiya Station. Exit the station and head straight across the bridged water way. At the stop light, walk left and you should be there. On the way back, follow the train hopping as before but in reverse towards Asakusa.
So basically, as long as you get on the right train at Tobu Asakusa station, you will be okay. Just keep hoping trains as everyone exits (but to be safe, check where it is going first before you get on). The name of the line to take at Tobu Asakusa station is Tobu Isesaki Line. Good luck and have fun on this otaku pilgrimage.