Sumiyoshi Shrine in Hakata City, Fukuoka, has an interesting story to tell. Take a walk through its serene grounds with me, won’t you?
Sumiyoshi Shrine is dedicated to safe sea faring. Travellers from Yamato to China and Korea would make a pilgrimage, starting at the head Shrine Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka, visiting each shrine along the Seto Inland Sea, finishing up at Sumiyoshi, before departing at Hakata Port. The shrine is dedicated to the gods Sokotsutsuo-no-kami, Nakatsutsuo-no-kami and Uwatsutsuo-no-kami, all of whom are associated with safe travels by sea. Also contained within the grounds are minor shrines to Ebisu, the god of fishermen, and Amaterasu, the sun goddess. There is also a small inari shrine to be found here (inari, the god of rice, sake, commerce, and other things, and a popular type within Shintoism. There are thousands located across Japan).
A moss covered guardian, statue of Ebisu, and the entrance to the main shrine.
As well as it’s strong association with sea travel, Sumiyoshi is reknown for its ties with Sumo. Sumiyoshi is worshipped as a god of fortune, prophecy, fishery, and Sumo. Contained within the grounds is a huge Sumo statue, fashioned in the style of Sumo wrestlers from ancient times. He is tall, lithe, and imposing, as opposed to the rotund shape modern fans are used to. It’s said that if you touch his palms, you can feel his energy, and it helps to build his strength. There is also a sumo ring here.
The Sumo of Sumiyoshi, and me, trying to reach his palms.
Sumiyoshi shrine sits at a juxtaposition to the rest of Hakata City. It’s swathed in forest and greenery, a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the city. The dense greenery serves as a barrier, cutting out modern sounds, enveloping you in peace. It’s quite lovely. Take a casual stroll through the grounds, pay your respects to its several deity residents, try to reach the palms of the impressive Sumo, say a prayer for any sea travellers you know, and maybe even stop to say hi to one of the many resident cats. It’s a firm Fukuoka favourite, not to be missed if you find yourself here.
Main shrine, a cat lazing atop a sake barrel, and a close up shot of the orange torii to be found at the Inari shrine within Sumiyoshi.
Happy and safe travels,