Igusa Hachimangu – a photographer’s guide

Giant shrine lanterns
The giants lanterns at the main entrance of Igusa Hachiman.

Igusa Hachimangu is another of the many shrines I love in Tokyo. It is different from Meiji Jingu and Sensoji Temple. This place is local. It serves community needs. But there is enough to interest photographers. Here is what I have found.

Igusa Hachimangu Shrine

The shrine is a little far from any station. Most people will take a car or bus there. But if you choose to walk, it’s about twenty minutes. Whichever way you go, you’ll be passing through suburban Tokyo.

Igusa Hachimangu isn’t big, but there is enough to enjoy exploring. For me, it is all about the buildings. They have that classical Japanese style.

lion dog guardian statue
A shrine komainu - lion dog guardian.

In spring, there are some cherry blossoms. But I wouldn’t make a special effort to go to Igusa Hanchimagu to see them. Zojoji or Meiji Shrine have more and are probably of better quality.

Igusa Hachimangu main hall
Igusa Hachimangu's main hall.

A brief history of Igusa Hachimangu

  • The shrine was founded circa 1190. 
  • Shogun Yoritomo Minamoto planted two pine trees in front of the main shrine around 1200. Those trees are now gone, but parts of the roots are exhibited along the corridor of the front shrine. 
  • In 1664, Ujinari Imagawa, an influential samurai renovated the main shrine. The vermilion-lacquered shrine is the Suginami’s oldest wooden construction. It still stands within the main hall.
Hachiman ema
A Hachiman-themed ema.

What can you photograph at this shrine?

  • Beautiful shrine architecture
  • Cherry blossoms (several trees near the main gate)
  • Lanterns (enormous ones at the main gate)
  • Plum cherry (one tree)
  • Yabusame (horse archery) – held once every five years.

Special photography note

It’s forbidden to photograph the vermillion-lacquered shrine without permission. But, you are allowed to photograph the main hall around it.

Note about the ema (votive tablets)

As the shrine is dedicated to Hachiman (the god of archery and war) many ema carry his image.

shinto shrine hall

Photo spots in the area

Igusa Hachimangu outer gate
One of Igusa Hachimangu's gates.

Igusa Hachimangu details

See the shrine’s location, opening hours, and other details on the official website.

Wooden shrine lantern in shrine courtyard

Wrapping up

If you are a shrine lover, I recommend Igusa Hachimangu. You won’t be there all day, but you will see a real local place in Tokyo. And it has history and beautiful architecture. The long walk there is worth it!

For more Suginami City temple and shrine articles, look at:

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