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The Blue Dragon of Chichibu Shrine

When we were on our way to Chichibu Shrine (秩父神社) in Saitama, we experienced a lot. There was unexpected snow, rain, fog, and other surprises nature could present us in the beginning of spring. But in the end, I understood why it happened. It was the Blue Dragon of Chichibu Shrine greeting us, and trying out our will to meet him.

Chichibu Shrine is said to be one of the oldest shrines in Japan (about 2,100 years old).

The tied Dragon (tsunagi no ryu) carving can be seen immediately if you come from the back entrance. As we came by car, we were ushered inside by the parking lot staff and stood still for a few seconds. The Blue Dragon was staring at us from above. He once did mischief in the neighborhood, and then someone smart came up with an idea to chain him. On a carving, of course. However, the dragon hasn’t bothered anyone since.

Chichibu ShrineLook closer for the iron chain wrapped around the dragon.

Chichibu ShrineClose to the entrance, there is a Sacred Tree. When I touched it, several water drops fell down on my head. I felt like the tree was blessing me.

This is a famous sculpture, Kodakara Kosodate no Tora (Child Treasure Child-rearing Tiger). If you take a closer look, you may notice that it has leopard’s fur instead of the tiger’s. All carvings at Chichibu Shrine were created by the legendary wood carver Jingoro Hidari.

Chichibu Shrine is most famous for its Night Festival on December 2nd and 3rd, called Chichibu Yomatsuri. It features floats and a two and a half hour firework. The main events happen on December 3rd.Chichibu ShrineThe main Chichibu Shrine Hall features many elaborate carvings by the legendary Jingoro Hidari. To the right and left of the entrance, you can see colorful tigers up on the wall. There are several tiger carvings on display but one shows a mother with her three cubs. The “tiger” mother’s fur pattern is, however, that of a leopard.Chichibu ShrineHidari is most famous for Three Wise Monkeys at Nikko Shrine. At Chichibu Shrine you can see another version of Three Monkeys – the Cheerful ones (ogenki saru).

Chichibu ShrineChichibu Shrine

Information

Chichibu Shrine

Address: Saitama-ken, Chichibu-shi, Banbacho 1-3
Access: 3 minutes walk from Chichibu Station, 10 minutes walk from Seibu Chichibu Station
Open: 9AM – 5PM
Closed: every Monday and every third Tuesday of the month
Phone: 0494-22-0262
Distance from airport: 133 km from Haneda Airport
HP (only in Japanese): http://www.chichibu- jinja.or.jp/

Article by Olga Kaneda

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