I spent an hour or so visiting the Nishinomiya shrine outside of Kobe last weekend. Its a relatively large shrine for the Kobe/Osaka area. (at least its larger than many of the shrines I’ve seen, except for maybe the Minatogawa Shrine in Kobe) The Nishinomiya shrine is the shrine for the deity Ebisu, who is the deity of good fortune. According to Hyogo Tourism Guide, a foot race is held on the grounds of the shrine every year on January 10. The first 3 people to reach the shrine are considered the fukuotoko, or ‘Lucky Man’ for the year.
I was very impressed with the grounds. They were extremely tranquil, and since I went on a Monday afternoon, it was not crowded at all. I was surprised by the location: it faces a highway overpass; but since the grounds are so large and there are a number of trees I quickly forgot about the location of the highway.
*wooden tori gate – most are painted red, but this one was brown
*bridge over the koi pond – side note* when I visited San Francisco’s Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park I saw a bridge like this, so I assumed they were popular in Japan. This is the first one I’ve seen since I’ve moved to Japan.
Koi fish were not only present in the pond, but they were painted on the Ema and there were statues. I did a little research on the internet and couldn’t find any definitive meaning behind the koi fish and how they may be linked to the Nishinomiya Shrine. The best assumption I can make is that koi are thought to be good luck and since Ebisu is the deity of this shrine and is the deity of good luck it makes sense that there would be a koi pond present here.
For more information on the Nishinomiya Shrine, check out the Wiki page.