Although “Nukebenten,” the nickname for Itsukushima-jinja Shrine, is nowadays used to refer to the area, the shrine, which is known as the place where Minamoto no Yoshiie, a Minamoto clan samurai of the late Heian period (794-1185), visited to pray, is actually located in this area. It is said that the legend of Minamoto no Yoshiie came from the fact that the old Kamakura-kaido Highway used to run near this area.
The grounds of the shrine are open and people can walk through the grounds (“nukeru” in Japanese) north to south. “Nuke-benten” (after a Japanese Buddhist goddess, Benzaiten), which is specialized in overcoming hardships, was venerated by common people, and was counted among “Edo Roku Benten (six famous benten in Edo)” as well as among “Yamanote Shichifukujin (seven lucky gods of Yamanote).” The area surrounding the shrine used to be a famous dog shelter in the Edo period (1603-1867) (see below).
Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, the fifth shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate promulgated Shorui-awareminorei, a series of animal protection laws, particularly for dogs, from 1685 onward, due to grief following the death of his first son, Tokumatsu, at the age of four due to illness. In 1695, he created two huge dog shelters, a 528,000 sq. meter one in Nakano and an 82,644 sq. meter one in Okubo, to accommodate stray dogs. It is said that the number of dogs in the shelters reached as many as 42,000 by October of the same year.
◇Shinjuku Yamanote Shichifukujin (seven lucky gods) Tour << Benzaiten spot >>
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