Exit Meitetsu Higashi-Okazaki Station in the front where the busses wait for their passengers. Turn left and walk down a small road not far past the station. You’ll pass a stone tori gate on your left and cross some railroad tracks. Walk past some houses in a quiet neighbor hood toward the large stone tori gate straight ahead of you. Welcome to Rokusho Jinja.
When Matsudaira Takechiyo (better known by the name Tokugawa Ieyasu) was born at the nearby Okazaki Castle, followers of the clan came here to pray for a safe birth and healthy baby. Though Tokugawa didn’t spend much time in Okazaki – he was sent as a hostage to the Imagawa clan at age 6, Rokusho Jinja was treasured by his family and descendants and it has been restored and expanded by them for centuries. Several of the main buildings are classified as Important National Properties of Japan.
Enter the shrine past the slats of wood with the names of patrons and under the large stone tori. On your left you pass a rather non-discript building which serves as a gathering place for events such as weddings.
A little further on, there is a place on your right for you to cleanse yourself in a ritual fashion – anyone can do it, and it’s basically just a polite thing to do, even if you’re not of the Shinto persuasion. Use the dipper to scoop out some of the water. Pour part over your right hand, then your left hand, then pour some into your right hand, rinse your mouth and spit it out (into the rocks at the bottom of the basin – not back in the water!)
To ascend to the shrine, you have two options. The stairs to your left are rather vertical and impressive, if daunting. In the old days, only daimyo of certain worth could climb the stairs. They’re steep, but do-able. If you have trouble with stairs, you can still visit the shrine! Go straight past the horse statue. There is a curved road which ramps up to the shrine. It’s still a bit steep, but it’s easier.
However you get to the top, you can admire the gorgeous red-orange color of the temple and the intricate carvings on the buildings. The main shrine building is generally off-limits, but is actively used for occasions like weddings. It will be roped off so you won’t be tempted or forget that it’s a no-go.
Ever wondered how you measure up to a shogun? There is a cast of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s hand print and you can get an idea of about how big this man was (our hands are about the same size and I’m a 5’3” woman)
The shrine is active and a favorite place of women seeking easy childbirth or conception. Do you want lots of babies in your family and or maybe you’re starting a family a bit later in life than some, but still hoping for children? Get married at Rokusho Jinja. Locals flock to the shrine to celebrate holidays such as New Year’s Day, to make wishes and pray for a good year to come.
Incidentally, I suppose most travelers probably aren’t mincing around in high heels anyway, but between the steep stone steps and the gravel surrounding the shrine area, I would recommend sneakers or something with a tread on the day you visit this shrine.