In the middle of the busy commercial Tenjin area in Fukuoka City, the Kego Shrine (警固神社) is a completely different space. The time seems to flow differently in the precinct, making it a nice spot to get some quiet time from the bustle surrounding the shrine.
The Kego Daijin (警固大神) that is enshrined here is a collective name of the below three gods.
- Yasomagatsuhi no Kami (八十禍津日神)
- Kaminaohi no Kami (神直毘神)
- Ōnaohi no Kami (大直毘神)
Yasomagatsuhi no Kami is a God who controls calamity. On the other hand, Kaminaohi no Kami and Ōnaohi no Kami have the power to chase away the disaster that Yasomagatsuhi no Kami can bring. The interesting combination of the enshrinement expresses the pilgrims’ hope of escaping disasters.
Kego Shrine is said to be erected in 200 as an appreciation gesture after Empress Jingū (神功皇后) came back to Japan after she succeeded in making most parts of the Korean peninsula surrender.
As to the shrine’s name, it was because, in the Heian period (794 – 1185), the guards were placed in the village as a defense line against foreign armies. The village was thus named “Kego”, meaning guard.
The shrine was then relocated to its current location in 1608.
One thing we want to highlight is that the shrine’s name written on the stone plaque attached to the stone torii gate is said to be written by the first lord of Fukuoka Domain, Kuroda Nagamasa (黒田長政)!
The Unique Uma Plaques and Charms of Kego Shrine
A special thing at Kego Shrine is a secret yellow sticker given to the pilgrims who purchased an ema plaque. Usually, the Japanese will write their personal information, such as their names and addresses, along with their prayers on the ema plaque (so the god knows whose prayer it is). As a shrine that guards pilgrims against disasters, it also has ways to protect their personal information!
Furthermore, if you purchase an Omamori Charm from the shrine office, you will notice that instead of the usual “御守り” written on the charm, it is “お固り”.
It isn’t an error, and they are both pronounced as Omamori.
If you check out the shrine crest curved on the side of the stone purification fountain, you will notice it looks different from the other crests in the shrine. In 2016, Kego Shrine had its crest redesigned. Instead of the wisteria crest that the shrine got from the Kuroda Clan, they decided to change it to a design that reinforced the benefit of worshiping the god enshrined. So the word “固” was taken from the shrine’s name.
The Sacred Water Fountain and the Foot Spa at Kego Shrine
In front of the Haiden Hall (拝殿), there is a sacred water fountain (御神水). While the device is artificial, the water from the tab is quite tasty.
Not too far away from the sacred water fountain, there is also a foot spa (足湯). If the weather is cold or you have tired feet, sit down here and let the hot spring warm you up and heal your tiredness!
If you need a towel, it is 100 yen for one sold at the shrine office.
Imai Inari Shrine (今益稲荷神社)
On Keko Shrine’s precinct, there is also an Inari Shrine. While the fox statues in most Inari Shrine seem to be staring at the pilgrims, the foxes of the Inari Shrine here are smiling. You can even see one of the fox’s teeth.
When you see them, remember to give them some pets for the good luck they will bring you!
Underneath the worship hall of the Inari Shrine, there is something interesting as well. A hole covered by a shrine structure can be found in the lower part of the hall. It is probably the entrance of a fox’s nest!
The Story of the Smiling Fox
Once upon a time, there was a tofu maker called Sōbei (宗兵衛). The young man worked really hard from the early morning every day. Another thing that he did daily was offering a deep-fried bean curd at the Inari Shrine that he walked past by when he was selling tofu each day.
One day, he saw a little fox coming out of the shade when he visited the shrine. He was really excited and gave the little fox a deep-fried bean curd as well. The fox finished the bean curd and smiled at Sōbei.
The scene was seen by a samurai with a daughter who wouldn’t smile. Thinking the bean curd might bring a smile to his daughter’s face, the samurai bought a deep-fried bean curd from Sōbei and gave it to his daughter. Because of the deliciousness of the bean curd, the daughter finally smiled!
The rumor soon spread across the town, and Sōbei’s tofu business has become prosperous. And the smiling fox has since been treated as a lucky object for prosperous business.
How to Get to Kego Shrine
- Kego Shrine is just a 1-minute walk from Nishitetsu’s Tenjin Station (天神駅) and around a 3-minute walk from Fukuoka City Subway’s Tenjin Station.
Discover Other Amazing Destinations in Fukuoka City
Wondering where else around Kego Shrine is worth your time? Check out our article on Fukuoka City!
In the article, we have included various attractions that may suit your interests. There is also information available on Fukuoka’s famous Yatai street stalls (=ﾟωﾟ)ﾉ.