Have you heard about the Peacock Shrine in Saitama City? Or maybe you know it as the Quiz Shrine? It is one of those shrines that is very famous among Saitama residents and further afield among the history buffs. But it is off the tourist trail. Maybe the locals prefer it that way. It was certainly a pleasure to be able to enjoy the tranquility of the shrine and the seasonal wind chimes without any other people there! Especially when on the drive to the shrine I passed Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine, which also has a wind chime event, was teeming with people. Don’t get me wrong though, it is one of Saitama’s largest, and there are times of the year that the shrine is very busy. Moreover, it is beloved by many – including myself!
The Peacock Shrine!
The peacock shrine is a nickname I gave it. Back in the day I always found it hard to remember the name of places I went. So I started to remember the places by their distinguishing factor. One of the unique elements of this shrine is the resident peacocks. The shrine also has several resident fowl. But the “fowl shrine” could be misinterpreted! So I committed it to memory as the peacock shrine. Nowadays, I can remember place names, but the habit of calling it the peacock shrine has stuck!
The Quiz Shrine
The real name of the shrine is Iwatsuki Sochinjyu Hisaizu Jinja. You can see why it was hard to remember when I still wasn’t that familiar with Japanese place names! The kanji of the Hisaizu is actually most commonly read as Kuizu. Furthermore, as one of the Gods of the shrine is the God of Learning, the shrine is most famous among Japanese as the “Quiz” Shrine.
Iwatsuki Sochinjyu Hisaizu Jinja
The shrine, a renowned power spot, is approximately 1500 years old. It was the guardian shrine of Iwatsuki Castle and has a close relationship with Iwatsuki’s samurai history. Furthermore, it was once frequented by the Shogunate of the Edo period, on their pilgrimage (on foot) to Toshogu Shrine in Nikko.
The aforementioned God of learning is just one of several Gods of Iwatsuki Hisaizu. The shrine is also known for benevolence in pregnancy and child birth. There is also a small version of the famous Kyoto Fushimi Inari taisha shrine. Furthermore, there is a Daikokuten, one of the seven lucky Gods. Moreover, you can find several different komainu and statues including ox (cow) statues, very fortuitous this year as it is the year of the ox.
Initially the shrine was gifted three peacocks from a member of staff of the Imperial Palace. Over the years, the numbers grew and there are now about 20. I had read on the Saitama City website that the peacocks roam freely on the grounds. However, that has not been my experience. But there are about a dozen fowl (chickens, roosters etc) that do roam freely.
Amulets and prayer plaques
Several of the amulets and prayer plaques (ema) have a peacock emblem. You can also get prayer plaques with Daikokuten or an ox on them, to name but a few. In addition, they have a great selection of amulets for all ages and even pet amulets. They have amulets for runners, bicycles, traffic safety, wristband amulets and so many more.
- Thomas the Tank Engine
- Hello Kitty
- Sports balls – soccer, basket, baseball, volleyball and tennis balls and badminton shuttle cocks
For those that are visiting with children; there is a small playground beside the shrine.
Summer at Hisaizu Shrine
Each summer, Iwatsuki Hisaizu Shrine have a wind chime display. In 2021 the wind chimes will be displayed from June until the end of August. During the period you can purchase wind chimes and write your prayers on them.
The goshuin of the shrine often has a peacock on it. Right now, it is particularly beautiful – a peacock, wind chime and tanabata scene. This peacock, wind chime and tanabata goshuin book can only be purchased in summer. The goshuin stamp are also seasonal and they have limited edition stamps too. For example, the special 2021 summer limited edition stamp can only be received on certain dates.
Hatsumode at Hisaizu Shrine
Hatsumode is celebrated from January 1st to 3rd at Hisaizu Shrine. There is a turnout of approximately 100,000 people annually for the three days of Hatsumode. On New Year’s Day you can see a Kagura performance, on the 2nd there are koto performances and on the 3rd there is taiko drum performances.
Setsubun at Hisaizu Shrine
I have not yet been to the setsubun festival at Hisaizu Shrine, but supposedly famous people participate in the event annually. Of course, the pandemic is effecting the level of celebrations at the shrine in recent years. For example, in 2023, there will be no mamemaki bean throwing ceremony. In a normal, pre-pandemic year, they had a bean throwing ceremony annually on February 3rd around 4 pm.
|Address:||2 Chome-6-55 Miyacho, Iwatsuki Ward, Saitama, 339-0065|
|Hours:||The shrine is open from 9 am to 4 pm during the pandemic. The precincts are open from 5 am to 7 pm, but the car park closes at 6 pm.|
|Cost:||An offering for a general visit. As little as much as you like. The Goshuin Book costs 2000 yen. Amulets start from 800 yen. Ema prayer plaques are 600 yen. Ceremonies vary greatly; generally upward of 3000 yen.|
The peacock shrine access
The nearest station is Higashi Iwatsuki station on the Tobu Noda (Urban) line. The shrine is close to the tracks but the station is about a fifteen walk. Iwatsuki station is about a 20 minute walk from the shrine. There is parking for 100 cars. The parking lot is open from 5 am to 6 pm and is free of charge. It is a 10 minute drive from the Iwatsuki Interchange.