The Golden Torii Shrine
Mikane-jinja is a small neighborhood shinto shrine located in a residential area north to downtown Kyoto. It is easily recognizable thanks to its golden torii gate that clearly illustrates the purpose of this place of worship: praying for financial success. Therefore anyone who would like to earn more money is welcome to drop by Mikane shrine.
Mikane-jinja was built in 1883 and two classical shintoist deities are enshrined:
- Amaterasu, the sun goddess, and
- Tsukuyomi, the moon god.
A third one, less famous, is worshipped here: Kanayama-hiko-no-mikoto, the blacksmith god, also in charge of metals such as gold and silver.
Gold, the symbol of financial success
Mikane-jinja was first frequented by artisans who prayed for help in crafting metal tools. With the advent of money in commercial exchanges, the shrine became a place of worship dedicated to financial wealth and economic success. Nowadays, visitors come to pray for a professional achievement or to ask a financial favor to the deities. Some even bring their lottery tickets to have them blessed for a win.
At the chozuya, in addition to the traditional purification rites, wicker baskets are placed on the edge of the fountain to collect money (most of the time ¥5 / ~US$0.05 coins) and purify it before offering it to the gods. With this small gift, visitors hope to attract the kami’s benevolence. Here, ema votive plates are shaped as gingko biloba leaves, a symbol of prosperity in Japan. It is also possible to purchase various kinds of lucky-charms blessed by the priests, to attract luck in everyday life.
Mikane-jinja, while not a must-see in Kyoto, is a nice place to visit. Small and hidden among houses, the shrine grounds are always busy and most of worshippers are neighbors. Its access is free and we recommend visiting at the end of the day, after the nearby Nijo Castle 🏯 and Imperial Palace closed. At nightfall, lantern papers light up the shrine, adding to its charms.