Ichi-no-miya(First Shrine) : Onamuchi-no-mikoto(“Daikoku-sama”)
Ni-no-miya(Second Shrine) : Sukunahikona-no-mikoto(“Ebisu-sama”)
San-no-miya(Third Shrine) : Taira no Masakado-no-mikoto(“Masakado-sama”)
Kanda Shrine is formally known as Kanda Jinja but is also more popular called Kanda Myojin.
The deities enshrined are the guardian deities for 108 Tokyo neighborhoods, including Kanda, Nihombashi, Akihabara, Ohte-Marunouchi, the Old Kanda Market and the Tsukiji Fish Market.
Prayers to the deities enshrined at Kanda Myojin are particularly efficacious for family happiness, marriage, prosperity and success in business, recovery from illness and protection against accidents and disasters, among many other things.
Kanda Myojin was founded in 730(the 2nd year of the Tmpyo era, or Tempyo 2).
With its almost 1,300 years of history, the shrine is one of the oldest in Tokyo.
Originally, it was located near the Masakado-zuka(MasakadoTomb) in present-day Chiyoda-ku, not far from the Imperial Palace.
In 1309 (Enkei 2), Taira no Masakado (903-940), a famous warrior hero of Eastern Japan, was enshrined at Kanda Myojin.
In 1603(Keicho 8), when Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu established his government in Edo(now Tokyo) and rebuilt Edo Castle on a larger scale, the shogunate moved Kanda Shrine to its present site in order to guard against misfortune entering the castle from the inauspicious Omote Kimon(demon gate) direction.
Throughout the Edo period, many people both in the government and among the general public honored the shrine as the Tutelary Shrine of All Edo.
During the Meiji period(1868-1912),Kanda Myojin was named one of the ten shrines in Tokyo to which an Imperial emissary was sent on the occasion of festivals and was officially regarded as the guardian of the City of Tokyo and the Imperial Palace.
In 1874, another deity, Sukunahiko-no-mikoto, who was originally worshipped at Oharai Isosaki Shrine in Ibaraki Prefecture, was enshrined as the second guardian deity of Kanda Myojin.
It was also in this year that Emperor Meiji paid a personal visit to the shrine.
Following the destruction of the shrine complex in the Great Kanto Erthquake of 1923, the shrine buildings were rebuilt in Gongen style, but instead of the traditional wood, reinforced concrete was used, an innovation in shrine-construction methods.
The fire bombing of Tokyo in 1945 nearly destroyed the Kanda and Nihombashi areas, but the shrine buildings survived with only minimal damage.
After the war, the Zuishin Gate and other structures were rebuilt, restoring the shrine to its Edo-period grandeur as one of the most important and scenic shrines of Tokyo.
In 1995, as part of the Heisei Grand Restoration Project, the shrine buildings were thoroughly refurbished and a new museum was added to the complex.
In 2005, further renovation work was carried out, and the new Ho-ou-den(Phenix Hall) and Soreisha(Shrine for Ancestral Spirits) were built.
The Kanda Shrine complex has been designated a National Cultural Property.
The buildings are constructed in the Gongen style of reinforced concrete painted with vermilion lacquer.
The Zuishin Gate is built entirely of hinoki cypress in the Irimoya style.
Decorating the gate are carved wooden reliefs depicting such subjects as the legend of the white rabbit of Inaba, the four mythical creatures of the four directions, and a tethered horse, which was Taira no Masakado’s family emblem.
The Ho-ou-den is a multifunctional hall where talismans can be obtained and worshipers can rest their feet or wait for friends.
The Myojin Kaikan(the shrine hall) is used for various types of gatherings, including wedding receptions for couples who have been married at the shrine.
The Shiryokan(the Shrine Museum) exhibits important artifacts related to the history of Edo culture and the Kanda Festival.
Within the shrine precincts are many sculptures, including images of Daikoku-sama(the largest stone sculpture of Daikoku-sama in Japan) and Ebisu-sama coming ashore amid waves, and also cultural properties such as the Shishi-yama(Lions on the cliff), the Tensui-oke(the Tensui pail) and other monuments.
The Kanda Matsuri is one of the three most famous festivals in Japan and also one of the three great festivals of Edo.
During the Edo period, the Kanda Matsuri was supported by both the government and the people of Edo and thus became known as the Edo Tenka Matsuri(the Edo Grand Festival) and Goyo Matsuri(Government-Authorized Festival).
During the festival, elaborately decorated floats and parades of costumed townspeople came from the Kanda and Nihombashi neighborhoods toEdo Castle, where they were permitted to enter the palace grounds to entertain the shogun.
Today the Kanda Matsuri is held once every two years in May.
It consists of two main events.
During the Jinkosai(Deity Parade Festival), the shrines’s own horen(imperial palanquins) and mikoshi(portable shrines) are paraded through the streets of the 108 neighborhoods that regard Kanda Myojin as their tutelary shrine.
Then during the Mikoshi-miyairi, the machi-mikoshi –mikoshi belonging to individual neighborhood associations- are carried through their respective neighborhoods and on to Knada Shrine in a glorious pageant of color, movement, noise, and evergy, to be purified and blessed by the deities of the shrine.
In alternate years when the full Kanda Matsuri is not held, one of Kanda Shrine’s grand mikoshi is also carried through the neighborhood on the shoulders of hundreds of people with a lot of cheers and enthusiasm.