Nearby Roppongi, you will find Akasaka, one of Tokyo’s central business districts full of corporate headquarters and expensive hotels. There are not many popular sights in Akasaka- probably the only actual sights in Akasaka are the Hie-Jinja (Hie Shrine) and the National Diet Building.
Reached by a steep flight of stairs, tucked up on a hill in the middle of Akasaka city, sits Hie-Jinja. This Shinto shrine traces its roots to the sacred Mt. Hiei, and it has been the protector shrine of Edo Castle (what is now the Imperial Palace) since it was first built in 1478. The present site dates from 1659, though the shrine was destroyed in the 1945 bombings and later rebuilt in the late 1950’s to early 1960’s.
These days, the shrine is chiefly known as the host of one of Tokyo’s three liveliest matsuri (festivals), Sanno-sai. Given the shrines protector status, the festival was regularly attended by the shogun, and even now the route of the festival’s mikoshi (portable shrines carried during the festival) ends at the Imperial Palace.
Inside you will find a carved monkey clutching one of her young. She is emblematic of the shrine’s ability to offer protection against the threat of a miscarriage. Some of the main reasons that people go to this shrine are to offer prayers for good childbirth, protection from harm (yakuyoke), and good marriage.
National Diet Building
The National Diet Building is the place where both houses of the Diet of Japan meet. The National Diet is Japan’s legislature. It was completed in 1936 and features a pyramid-shaped dome. Sessions of the House of Representatives take place in the left wing and sessions of the House of Councilors in the right wing.
From about A.D. 400-700 until 1945, Japan was ruled by emperors who bequeathed the throne to their children. Emperors, and their subjects, believed that the emperor had descended from the sun goddess, a belief that continued well into the twentieth century. Today, however, the emperor and imperial family have only ceremonial and traditional roles. Today, Japan has a parliamentary form of government with elected representatives who make up the governing body called the Diet. The Diet elects the prime minister, who is the real head of the government.
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!