Peep into every nook and cranny of the country and you are most certainly going to discover a local shrine. They are everywhere, from tiny little patches of ground to huge compounds of Imperial solemnity, wherever you go you will find a shrine.
So you can imagine my embarrassment to discover a shrine that, by all rights, ought to be as visible as the sky is blue. Alas, life takes you along some interesting directions and despite the area being very familiar to me, Soka Shrine somehow spent years evading my notice.
Originally established in the late 16th century under the name of Hikawa Shrine, Soka Shrine is now a decidedly modern shrine, no doubt, spotless with its clean lines and current demeanour. As the major Shinto shrine of the area, Soka Shrine is also a popular location for many community occasions like the shichi-go-san ceremony for children. Post occasion, a nice little bakery across the road offers some tasty breads while a local children's play area features a real-life steam locomotive engine.
Set well back as it is from its torii gate, Soka Shrine seems larger than what it is with features common to many shrines such as komainu guardian statues, temizuya ablution wells and lovely woodworking details. The gingko tree is a nice point of contemplation while goshuin stamp books can be completed at the shrine, a nice little souvenir, particularly when the shrine is visited as part of a mini-pilgrimage.
Soka Shrine is quite the family-friendly suburban shrine, complete with all of the standard spiritual trimmings of Shinto shrines across the nation. And like many places in Japan, once it grabs your attention, it is unlikely to ever let go.