Well, it was about time that I went on a pilgrimage of Soka City's seven lucky deities. Quite familiar with the city, it was downright embarrassing to have not done so before. As they say, better late than never.
Known as the shichifukujin-meguri, this quasi-pilgrimage sees participants make their way through seven local temples or shrines in order to pray for good fortune for the coming year. Each of the temples and shrines are dedicated to one of the seven gods of fortune with a final temple or shrine added during New Years to represent the arrival of the deities bearing gifts in their takarabune or treasure ship.
Performing the pilgrimage is no arduous task and depending on the area, will take about 90 minutes or so of your time. I tended to dawdle a bit while taking in the sights so my pilgrimage took around two hours. Strolling through the through the back streets of the neighbourhood and running into others completing their own piligrimage is quite pleasant.
I began with the closest shrine which happened to be Hikawa Jinja, representing the deity Daikokuten, god of commerce and prosperity. The shichifukujin-meguri also works as a stamp rally and I collected my first stamp here before moving off to Hachiman Jinja, home of Ebisu, he who protects crops.
Mitsumine Jinja was up next, home of the deity of health & longevity, Juroujin and followed this with a stop and more stamps at Ekouin Temple and Hoteison, the deity for fertility and, ahem, popularity. By this time I was thoroughly enjoying myself, aided and abetted by some quite supportive weather.
Given that I had started mid-way on the map, I doubled back and headed to seek favour with the god of war, Bishamonten at Tofukuji Temple. Surviving that, next up was Shusse Benzaiten Shrine and Benzaiten, goddess of music and the only female of group. The final deity to receive a visit was Fukurokuju, he of virtue and longevity fame at Yakou Inari Shrine.
With my seven stamps, I completed my shichifukujin-meguri pilgrimage at Shinmeigu Shrine by collecting my final stamp representing Shichifukujin Takarabune, the Treasure Ship of the Seven Good Fortune Deities.
Performed at anytime of the year, there is something special about the shichifukujin-meguri during New Years and I heartily encourage anyone visiting Japan at this time of year to perform it.