Walking Tours of Yanaka Shichifukujin
Shichifukujin Meguri, a pilgrimage to meet Seven Lucky Gods.
Shichifukujin Meguri 七福神巡り is a short pilgrimage tour to visit temples and shrines of Shichifukujin, the Seven Deities of Good Fortune. Shichifukujin Meguri can be made anytime of the year, though it is usually done during Oshougatsu, the beginning of the year (1st, 2nd and 3rd of January). It is where people wish for happiness and good fortune in the New Year.
It has been said that this old custom started in the early Edo period (about 400 years ago) and it is still popular everywhere in Japan.
The Shichifukujin Gods
Shichifukujin, or the Seven Deities of Good Fortune are 7 Gods that came from India, China and Japan. The 7 Gods are:
- Ebisu 恵比寿
The God of Success in Business
- Daikokuten 大黒天
The God of a Rich Harvest
- Benziten 弁財天
The God of Good Results in Learning and Fortune
- Bbisyamonten 毘沙門天
The God of Victory
- Hotei 布袋
The God of Good Fortune, bringing good match, bringing healthy children
- Fukurokuju 福禄寿
The God of Long Life and Wealth
- Jurouzin 寿老人
The God of long life and happiness
As each Shichifukujin had jovial characteristics and always with a big smile on their face, this made people feel happy by looking at them.
They not only have friendly personal characteristics but also are symbols of good luck. Shichifukujin have been popular for hundreds of years in Japan. Since many temples and shrines are enshrining the gods of Shichifukujin throughout Japan, there are many tour routes for the Shichifukujin Maguri. For example, there are 28 tour routes just in Tokyo.
The route we introduce here is called the Shichifukujin Meguri route in Yanaka, starting from Tabata to Ueno. Although the temples and shrines in Yanaka are small ones, not like the large temple in Asakusa, they still retain a warm atmosphere and loved by locals living in the town.
These temples have crowds of visitors only during the beginning of new year. They are usually quiet and don’t have many visitors. (Except for Bentendo in Ueno Park). It is recommended you say hello to the attendants to get permission to go inside when you visit off season at the Shichifukujin Meguri. At some temples, it is required to take your shoes off to go inside the building.
Yanaka Shichifukujin Meguri Walking Tour | Estimated time for the tour: 3 hours
Toukakuji Temple 東覚寺 - Fukurokuju
Toukakuji Temple is also known for Akagami Niou, 2 stone statues of Niou, that show many red papers. People suffering from a disease put a red paper on the body of Niou statue and pray for recovery.
Seiunji Temple 青雲寺 - Ebisu
A small temple on a narrow street leading to a Yanaka shopping street. It has been said this temple was established in the middle of the 18th century.
Shuseiin Temple 修性院- Hotei
Shuseiin Temple is just a 1 minute-walk from the Seiunji Temple on the same road. A big Hotei statue set inside of the temple is known for its remarkable looks.
Tennouji Temple 天王寺 - Bishamonten
Established in the 15th century, Tennouji Temple used to be a large temple and included the Yanaka cemetery area, this was part of a temple from the Edo period.
Chouanji temple 長安寺 - Juroujin
A small temple established in the middle of 17th century.
Gokokuin Temple 護国院 - Daikokuten
Established in 1625, it has been said that the statue of Daikokuten in this temple was dedicated by Iemitsu, the third Tokugawa shogun.
Nezu Shrine 根津神社
If you keep walking along the small alley you will reach a medium sized road. Turn left and keep walking. When you walk past an intersection with traffic lights and you will see Nezu Shrine on the right.
Shinobazu Bentendou 不忍池弁天堂- Benzaiten
Shinobazubentendou is called Bendou, in short. It is located at the Shinobazu pond. It always has crowds of people, as it is one of sightseeing spots in Ueno.