Atago Shrine (Photo: Suikotei / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Atago Shrine in Noda City

Calming a fire god in Chiba

Atago Shrine (Photo: Suikotei / CC BY-SA 4.0)
Sleiman Azizi   - 2 min read

If you've a thing against fire, a visit to Shimousa Noda Atago Shrine in Chiba Prefecture's sleepy Noda City, may just be the thing to help to calm your nerves.

Like the other 900 Atago Shrines found throughout Japan, Noda's one was built as a ward against fire - a familiar calamity in premodern Japan. The shrine is dedicated to the Shinto deity of fire, Kagu-tsuchi, who, with his searing birth, saw the end of his mother. His father wasn't too pleased with this turn of events and promptly lopped off his son's head. Kagu-tsuchi understandably needed placating in order to minimise his oxidising tendencies.

The story of Kagu-tsuchi, however, stands in stark contrast to the semi-sleepiness of the shrine grounds. Describing them as an oasis in the midst of a modern hustle and bustle may be taking it too far. Still, it is peaceful.

Atago Shrine is said to have been established back in 923, though the current building dates back to 1828. The building itself is such an amazing example of devoted architecture from the Edo period - the carved wooden motifs on the building itself are extraordinarily detailed - that it's been listed as a Tangible Cultural Property of Chiba Prefecture.

In addition to Atago Shrine, there are several much smaller sub-shrines on the grounds with their own torii gates and moss-attracting shakujin stone monuments. The grounds even feature a kaguraden ceremonial music pavilion. Collectively, with their wooden constructions and moss on stone, they give the entire shrine compound a distinct feeling of history.

If the atmosphere of the shrine is anything to go by, the locals have successfully soothed Kagu-tsuchi. Which is good thing too as it would be a terrible thing to see such cultural treasures go up in smoke.

Getting there

A 3-minute walk from Atago Station on the Tobu Urban Park Line.

Sleiman Azizi

Sleiman Azizi @sleiman.azizi

I'm a Japanese Permanent Resident with over 650 published articles on Japan as well as 5 English language books inspired by traditional Japanese literature.I'm also a Japan Travel expert for Tokyo, so if you've anything to say about Japan's never ending capital - or just Japan in general - don't ...