Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Washinomiya Shrine

One of the traditional otaku pilgrimage spots has been Washinomiya Jinja in Saitama, because of its connection to the anime Lucky Star (being the model for the fictional Takanomiya Shrine).

The location is about an hour away from Ueno, and we paid a visit on a particularly gusty morning that was quite chilly.

We took the JR Utsunomiya Line to Higashi-Washinomiya Station which was kind of a mistake because I didn't realize we should have transferred over to the Tobu Isesaki Line at Kuki Station and got off at Washinomiya Station instead.

In any event, we needed to take the bus from Higashi-Washinomiya Station over to the shrine, but the buses were running on a limited schedule due to the New Year's holiday.

The bus stop is a short distance away from the station. Just head out diagonally to the right from the station and take a right turn at the street just in front of the Shingaku building.

Keep walking, and eventually you will get to the Nishi Owa bus stop.

We got off at the Washinomiya Shrine Entrance bus stop, and had to walk toward the highway, and around the block to get to the shrine itself.

The road to the shrine is fairly recognizable by the street lamps with banners featuring the Hiiragi sisters on them. I actually didn't notice them at first because it was so windy that most of the banners were all twisted up so you couldn't really see what was on them.

At the end of the street, turn right, and there is the shrine.

To the right of the torii gate is the Ootori teashop.

The path up to the shrine was lined with yatai selling food and snacks. One or two them had a bit of Lucky Star art used as decoration.

Because the temple was in full use and many areas had limited access, it was difficult to get good pictures of the actual shrine itself.

We bought a hamaya sold by the shrine, though it was the least expensive type, so it did not have a bulb at the tip like the larger and more expensive arrows which resembled kaburaya.

Afterwards, we had some snacks from the food stalls, and explored the grounds of the shrine.

One of the major attractions for a lot of people were the Lucky Star themed ema on display.

A small wooded area around the main shrine area housed a couple of lesser shrines.

It was a bit jarring coming to the end of some of the paths in the wooded area and finding yourself in a parking lot or somebody's backyard.

On the return walk, we found a bus stop that was very close to the front of the shrine, but there was no service to that particular stop on the day we were there, so we had to walk back where we were initially dropped off to take the bus back to the station.

Bus stop to return to station

If I come back to Saitama again, it's not going to be in winter. There are a number of other places in the region that I wanted to visit, but the short days coupled with the freezing wind pretty much encouraged us to make way back to Ueno as quickly as possible.

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