The phrase "Shichifukujin meguri" refers to the act of usually done around the New Year holiday where one goes around to the temples and shrines deifying the Seven Gods of Fortune to pray for good luck and safety for the year, but it's also a popular practice for tourists as well. Here are some recommended courses in Tokyo that you can easily attempt.
What are the Seven Gods of Fortune and how do you see them?
The Seven Gods of Fortune are Daikokuten, Ebisu, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Jurojin, Hotei, and Fukurokuju. During the new year, it's customary to visit the shrines that deify them in order to pray for fortune and health for the year. Usually it's done in the period from the New Year to January 15th, and you collect stamps called "goshuin" after you pray. Lately, walking courses linking the shrines have made it easy to go. They've gained popularity, so people performing Shichifukujin meguri have increased not just during the New Year, but all year round. The area where this custom developed, Tokyo, has 29 shrines where you can go to fulfill this trip (as of 2016). There are various courses available, from some that you can complete in a relatively short amount of time to some that will take a while.
Yanaka Shichifukujin Meguri
The Shichifukujin meguri in Yanaka, one of Tokyo's working-class areas, is the oldest area for it in Tokyo, having started around 250 years ago. The course has 7 temples in Taito-ku, Arakawa-ku, and Kita-ku, and it doesn't matter where you start from. If you start from Tokakuji by JR Tabata Station and finish at Shinobazu no Ike Bentendo by JR Ueno Station, after you finish the course you can enjoy shopping and a meal at Ameyoko as well as go to museums.
Required time is around 2 and a half hours. You can see sacred objects and get goshuin from January 1st to January 10 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Model course: Tokakuji (Fukurokuju) - Shounji (Ebisu) - Shushoin (Hotei) - Choanji (Jurojin) - Tennouji (Bishamonten) - Gokokuin (Daikokuten) - Shinobazu no Ike Bentendo (Benzaiten)
*Time is estimated.
Nihonbashi Shichifukujin Meguri
Nihonbashi's Shichifukujin meguri is distinguished by being one that can be completed going only to shrines, and it's said to be Japan's shortest course. It's called a "Shichifukujin" course but since there are two Benzaiten, it's actually a "hachifukuin" course ("shichi" means seven, and "hachi" means eight). It's a compact course centered around Ningyocho Station, so it can be completed in a little less than an hour.
You can see sacred objects and get goshuin from January 1st to January 7th from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Model course: Koami Jinja (Fukurokuju/Benzaiten) - Cha no Ki Jinja (Hotei) - Suitengu (Benzaiten) - Matsushima Jinja (Daikokuten) - Suehiro Jinja (Bishamonten) - Kasama Inari Jinja (Jurojin) - Suginomori Jinja (Ebisu) - Takarada Ebisu Jinja (Ebisu)
*Time is an estimate.
Fukagawa Shichifukujin Meguri
Fukagawa's Shichifukujin meguri is made up of 3 shrines and 4 temples. You're free to go in whatever order you'd like, but the recommended course is to start at Tomioka Hachimangu and head to Fukagawa Shinmeigu. During the period when you can get goshuin, you can receive some lucky bamboo decorated with colored paper for goshuin and a bell with the face of a Fortune God painted on it (a temple offering is required). You can receive the lucky bamboo at all of the shrines and temples, but the bells are based on the god deified at that shrine. Please gather them all and bring it home as a memory. Time necessary is about 2 hours. You can see sacred objects and get goshuin from January 1st to January 15th from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Model course: Tomioka Hachimangu (Ebisu) - Fuyuki Bentendo (Benzaiten) - Shingyoji (Fukurokuju) - Enjuin (Daikokuten) - Ryoukouin (Bishamonten) - Fukagawa Inari Jinja (Hotei) - Fukagawa Shinmeigu (Jurojin)
Shichifukujin meguri are popular casual walking courses. It's fun to go during New Year, but if you go during the rest of the year it won't be as crowded and you can enjoy a leisurely walk through the verdant nature on the grounds. Please consider adding one of these courses to your itinerary.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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