Mount Fuji is popular in Japan, as much as it is an icon representing Japan all over the world, it is a popular and cherished symbol inside Japan. So much so that many small replicas were built in and around Tokyo. These little fuji mountains are called Fujizuka, miniature replicas created from rocks and plants taken from the real Mount Fuji.
Many Japanese believed that Mount Fuji was a god (or that a god lived in the mountain) and many people in Edo (old name of Tokyo) worshiped the mountain, leading to the construction of many small replicas all over town. The cult worshiping Mount Fuji, called Fujikou, originated from early 16th century and reached its peak popularity in the 18th century. Obviously, one of the major devotional rites was to climb to Mount Fuji, but if that was impossible, the second option would be to climb one of the surrogates.
The fujizuka is at the left hand side of the main shrine building, protected by two monkeys. Monkey worship peaked at the same time as the reverence for Mount Fuji.
The replica at Onoterusaki Shrine is called the Fujizuka of Shitaya-Sakamoto. It was built in 1828, about 5 meters tall and 16 meters in diameter. This fujizuka is well-preserved and has been designated as an important cultural relic. It is only open to the public on 30 June and 1 July, on the other days you can of course take a peek over the fence. There used to be hundreds of these little mountains all over Tokyo, but nowadays only a couple of remain in Tokyo.
Onoterusaki Shrine itself is said to date from 852 and is a popular shrine in the Shitaya/Iriya area. It was relocated to this spot in 1625 and the current shrine building dates from 1866, surviving the big calamities in Tokyo in the 20th century. It is one of the shrines on the Shitamachi lucky god pelgrimage (shitamachi hachifukujin), bringing together 8 shrines and temples in Taito Ward and Chuo Ward, including Shitaya Shrine, Suitengu Shrine and Koami Shrine.
The shrine is revered for success in academics and performing arts. One well know example tells the story of Atsumi Kiyoshi, famous for the “Otoko wa tsurai yo” series (translation: It’s tough being a man), who got his first major role after praying at Onoterusaki Shrine. He gave up smoking at that time too, bringing many people to this shrine who seek spiritual help to quit smoking.
Several cats are protecting the precious stones from Mount Fuji
2-13-14 Shitaya, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Iriya Station – 3 minutes walk (Hibiya line)
Uguisudani Station – 7 minutes walk (Yamanote line, Keihintohoku line)
Opening hours: always open
When to best visit? The small Mount Fuji is off-limits for visitors, only open on 30 June and 1 July. The annual shrine festival takes place on the 3rd weekend of May.
Why visit? A rare miniature Mount Fuji at a good looking shrine.
Web http://onoteru.or.jp/ (in Japanese)
Name in Japanese: 小野照崎神社