亀戸天神 Kameido Tenjin & Surrounding Area

After being cooped up in my apartment for three days with (maybe) the flu, I had to get out and stretch my legs. So I bundled up and left my bike behind to go explore some shrines nearby. It’s still cold outside and I’m still a little sick, so I took the train.

I buy a monthly train pass for work, because it’s cheaper and easier than putting money on my card every day, or even every week. It’s great, because it gives you unlimited travel between your home and work stations along a certain route, so I was able to get to Kameido Station for free.

I’ve been to 亀戸天神, Kameidoten Shrine (also known as Kameido Tenjin or Kameido Tenjin Shrine) before: I biked there when I was living near Ueno Park over the summer, and walked there recently to take some pictures in the snow. The weather yesterday was much more agreeable, so I took a leisurely stroll, starting with another local shrine: 香取神社, Katori Shrine.

Katori Shrine

Kinshicho Station, the next stop over from Kameido Station on the JR Sobu Line, is a twenty minute walk from the Tokyo Skytree and it dominates the area. Everywhere you go, you can see the Skytree looming above the other buildings.

It’s great for me when I’m out on my bike, because as long as I can find my way to the Skytree, I know how to get home. It also makes for some nice pictures. This one was taken from under the 鳥居, torii gate, leading into the shrine area.

From Katori Shrine, I set off to Kameido Tenjin Shrine. I didn’t have my shrine book with me when I went to take the snow pictures, because I left from work and I don’t usually carry it around with me unless I plan on going out on an adventure.

Kameidoten Shrine

Fun fact: the 亀 “kame” in 亀戸 “Kameido” means “turtle,” so there are lots of turtles to be found around the shrine area. In the summertime, you can see them swimming in the pond. Yesterday, there wasn’t a turtle to be seen – but there were two herons! Unfortunately, they were too far away to get a good photo.

I stopped to get my shrine book signed and noticed that I’m already running out of pages! The paper in my book is very thin, so the ink has bled through in some places, like behind the 王子神社 Oji Shrine signature, which is very bold and dark.

So while I waited, I looked at the books on display. A purple one with gold embroidery caught my eye, so I picked up the sample to get a closer look. Imagine my surprise when there was printed writing inside! That’s not how it’s supposed to work!

I flipped back to the front and took a moment to actually read it (whoops) and noticed something exciting:

Tokyo Ten Shrine Pilgrimage

御朱印長東京十社めぐり, or “Shrine Book for the Ten Shrines of Tokyo Pilgrimage.”

There are a lot of shrines in Tokyo. (Believe me, I know!) The Ten Shrines of Tokyo (東京十社, Tokyo Jissha) are the ten most important shrines in the city. I’ve visited many of them before, before I had my shrine book. This one is a special pilgrimage book, with a space for each of the ten signatures, and the facing page has some information about the shrine. (In Japanese, of course, but that’s why I bought an electronic kanji dictionary.)

I know what I want for my birthday.

Once I had my signature from Kameido Tenjin Shrine, I set off to the next one marked on the guide map outside of the shrine: 天祖神社 Tenso Shrine.

Tenso Shrine

I thought the route looked familiar, and I was right: I had been here before. It was no less creepy than any of the other times I’ve visited, and it’s not just that mysterious shadow across the shrine. It feels at once lived-in and neglected, and it sends a shiver down my spine every time I’ve come here.

I was a little disappointed to find that I’ve been here before. Tokyo is secretly the world’s smallest town. You end up in the same places, over and over again, quite by accident, and run into classmates you haven’t really seen or heard from in years while you’re out doing a little shopping.

By this point, I was drooping and it was time to go home. I had planned to go out one stop further than my workplace, to 水天宮 Suitengu Shrine, but my (re)visit will have to wait until another time when I’m not still fighting off the flu.

That’s okay. Maybe when I go, I can take my bike. You miss a lot by going on the train, but I wasn’t up for it yesterday. I’m glad I was able to get out of my apartment, even if I did end up sleeping for ten hours last night.