The Shirahige Jinja (Shrine) is located by the bank of the Sumidagawa River, and it is one of the oldest shrines in Mukojima. According to the shrine's record, when Jie Daishi (Ryogen) came down to the Kanto region in 951 A.D., he enshrined there a divided spirit of "Shirahige Daimyojin" in Uchioroshi, Shigagun, Ominokuni (Takashima City, Shiga).

 

The tutelary god is Sarutahiko-no-mikoto, the holy guardian of the national land, the patron of navigators, and also a "dosojin (road ancestor god)" along the Sumidagawa. As god of navigation, later he began to be believed to attract customers, and has been worshiped as the deity of Shobai Hanjo (business prosperity) and Senkyaku Banrai (thousands of customers coming tens of thousand times). Considering the fact that the komainu (guardian lion-dogs) and stone-carved garden lamps in front of the shrine were donated by the restaurants in Yoshiwara, which was then a hanamachi (geisha district), you can imagine how deeply people worshiped the shrine at that time.

 

In 1990, the main building was completely burnt down by arson that was suspected to be set by extremist guerrilla, but instead you can see an even greater concrete building constructed in 1992.

 

There are a lot of stone monuments in the precinct: Kato Chikage's monument telling the origins of the shrine, Sumida Sanzetsu's monument among the ones located along the approach, the memorial monument of Iwase Osho, who was a Tokugawa Shogun's vassal and the magistrate of foreign affairs in the end of the Edo period; he played an important role in closing the Harris Treaty (Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the U.S. and Japan), but after he was exiled because of the Shogunate heir trouble during the Ansei Purge, he had to spend his closing years silently in Mukojima. You can also find the monument of Washizu Kido, an important officer of the Meiji government, also known as Nagai Kafu's maternal grandfather.

 

Magatama-shaped (comma-shaped) "dorei (earthenware bells)" sold in the main building are popular as a simple but tasteful folk handicraft. You can also purchase Netsuke (small miniature accessory) of "Shofuku Nasu (fortune-inviting eggplant)". Its motif was taken from the Terajima eggplant, the vegetable once produced in the suburbs of Tokyo during the Edo period.

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As is the case with Fukurokuju, originated from China, Jurojin is the god incarnated from the Jusei (star of longevity) based on the Taoist thought. It is also said Jurojin is another name of Fukurokuju.

 

Jurojin carries a walking stick with a scroll tied on the tip; the roll tells the length of people's lives. He is accompanied by a Japanese deer, which is a messenger of Miyama-shin (Deep Mountain God) and symbolizes the longevity of three thousand years. Jurojin is worshiped as god of long life and believed to help maintain health and safety.

 

Jurojin is usually written in the kanji characters meaning "Longevity Elderly Man", but specially written as "Longevity Elderly God" if he is counted as a member of the Sumidagawa Seven Gods of Fortune. Though this is also explained in "The Origins" page, when people were trying to choose Seven Gods of Fortune from among the temples and shrines along the Sumidagawa River, they could not find any that enshrined Jurojin. Therefore, the local tutelary god in Terajima Village (Mukojima Hyakkaen is also located there), Shirahige Daimyojin (White-bearded Great Shining God) was regarded as Jurojin, who is also white-bearded. On the stone monument the calligraphy "Shirahige Okami (White-bearded Great God)" is engraved.

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