Hie Jinja (shrine) is one of the major shrines of Tokyo. The shrine is located on a tree covered hilltop between the neighbourhoods of Akasaka and Nagatacho.

As one of Tokyo’s major shrines, it’s also the kick-off point for one of its major festivals—the Sanno Matsuri.

Hie Shrine monkey diety | Photo by Gregory Lane

While most shinto shrines are guarded by dog statues, a unique feature of Hie Shrine is the monkey dieties which guard the shrine.

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Hie Shrine cherry blossoms | Photo by Gregory Lane

The shrine is particularly impressive in spring. In front of the main entrance is an old cherry tree which blossoms prodigiously. When the cherry blossoms finish, the wisteria within the main courtyard begin to flower.

Wisteria flowering in the main courtyard of Hie Shrine | Photo by Gregory lane

Although the main shrine itself is a pleasant and serene place to take a break from the surrounding hustle and bustle, the real highlight is the shrine’s back entrance with a tunnel of 90 bright red torii gates.

stairs leading down from Hie Shrine
The stairs leading back down at the other side | Photo by Victor Gonzalez

If visiting on a Tuesday or Friday, visitors can also enter the Hо̄motsuden (treasure house) — a small museum housing items with a strong connection to the Tokugawa shoguns — for free. The collection includes swords dating from the 17th century, and a perfectly preserved 430 year-old scroll with calligraphy from the skillful hand of the very first shogun of the Edo period — Ieyasu Tokugawa.

The Hie Shrine Hо̄motsuden (treasure house) | Photo by Gregory Lane

In typical Japanese old-meets-new fashion, the main entrance steps have escalators on either side.

Hie shrine escaltor and stairs
Take the escalator if you’d rather not hike up a hill. | Photo by Chris Kirkland
  • Hie Shrine entrance at night
  • The treasure house in which the floats for the Sanno Matsuri are kept.
  • A prayer hall at Hie Shrine
  • Pretend you're in Kyoto. There are 90 gates. I counted.

The central part of the shrine closes relatively early at 4pm, but the surrounds and the path of torii gates are particularly atmospheric after dark.

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