If you are wondering which of the six entrances you should finish your exploration of the Kanazawa Castle, the Nezumita-mon Gate (鼠多門) can be a great choice if you aren’t in a hurry to Kenrokuen Garden. Because after you cross the Nezumita-mon Bridge (鼠多門橋), there is a shrine with a three-storied gate, each built in a different style!
Oyama Shrine (尾山神社) was first built in 1599 at Mt. Utatsu (卯辰山) By Maeda Toshinaga (前田 利長), dedicated to his father – the first lord of the Kaga Domain, Maeda Toshiie (前田 利家).
After the collapse of the Tokugawa Shogunate, in 1873, together with the relocation of the shrine, the locals gathered the necessary funds and built this gate to preserve the spirit of the Maeda clan.
The first and second stories are in Chinese and Japanese styles, respectively. The highlight is at the top level. It is beautifully decorated with stained glass windows. Together with Japan’s oldest lightning rod, it is now a designated National Important Cultural Property.
At night, the shrine is lit up for those who fancy a nighttime stroll!
You can refer to the shrine’s website for a Japanese version map HERE.
The Must-Sees at Oyama Shrine
On the wooden carving attached to the gate’s ceiling and walls, you will see a lot of plum blossom flowers representing the Maeda family. Furthermore, most of the sculptures and decorations on the shrine’s precinct are also deeply connected with Maeda Toshiie (including a stone sculpture of Toshiie sitting on a horse with his spear in his hand).
In front of the main worship hall, this golden thing in the photo might catch your attention.
It is actually the type of hat that Maeda Toshiie used to wear. As a side note, the color of the hat on his head when he was alive wasn’t golden. The color is just representing Kanazawa’s gold leaf industry (´▽｀*).
If you ever wondered why the shrine has two gates, the torii, and the unique tower-like gate, it is because that stone torii gate was originally in front of the Kanazawa Castle. It was only moved to the shrine after the completion of the tower-like gate.
Another must-see at Oyama Shrine is its garden. Nicknamed the Musical Instrument Garden (楽器の庭), the garden was built in the image of several traditional instruments, such as the zither and reed pipe. Whilst it might be hard to picture those instruments that the bridges or small islands try to mimic, it is a gorgeous garden to relax in.
There is another smaller shrine called Kanaya Shrine (金谷神社) in Oyama Shrine. Where Kanaya Shrine is located is where the Maeda family’s residence used to be. It is where the 3rd to the 17th lord of the Maeda clan and their wives are enshrined at.
The Magical Higashi-Shinmon Gate
The last thing that we want to introduce is the gate called Higashi-Shinmon (東神門) which used to be in the second quarter (二の丸) of Kanazawa Castle.
Kanazawa Castle is a castle that suffers from a lot of fire hazards. The reason that this gate magically managed to escape from all the disasters is said to be due to the two dragons craved on the gate that had called for water to protect the gate! Whether true or not, this gate was moved to Oyama Shrine in 1963 and is now one of Japan’s National Important Cultural Properties.
How to Get to Oyama Shrine
It is a 3-minute walk from the bus stop – Minamimachi Oyama Jinja (南町・尾山神社).
For more information about bus services in Kanazawa, please refer to the Transportation Options in Kanazawa City Center section in our article on Kanazawa.
Discover Other Fascinating Attractions in Kanazawa City
Apart from Oyama Shrine, Kanazawa has many other great attractions that you won’t want to miss out on, such as the famous Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle.
Refer to our Kanazawa article for more awesome attractions, including where to meet the Geishas and an amazing art museum!