Walking and the pedestrian environment
September 30, 2006
Hikawa Rise (Tokyo)

氷川坂 ひかわざか
Hikawa-zaka, Hikawa Rise

Between Akasaka 6-8 and 6-10

This article is part of the special feature Akasaka on the Rise. Check it out in my Live Maps Collection.

The official description:

Hikawa Rise map, 1858
A rise crossing right in front of Hikawa Shrine, which was built to enshrine Tokugawa Yoshimune, the eighth Tokugawa shogun.

Unofficial explanation:

Hikawa Rise, topThe rise stretches parallel to Hikawa Shrine on a road leading to the eastern entrance of the shrine. On the north end it meets up with Stumble Rise, and it runs on the opposite side of the shrine from Old Hikawa Rise. Looking at old maps, it appears that the entrance to the shrine has moved several times - first to the north, then to the south, and now with additional entrances to the east and west. The flip from north to south happened when the shrine was combined with one near Akasaka Gate.

Hikawa Rise, bottomTokugawa Yoshimune (1684-1751) was great-grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu through a younger son, and took reign as Shogun when the main branch of the family had no ready heir. His legacy of relaxing the ban on foreign books, which created a new branch of foreign studies, is interesting when Akasaka's current reputation for housing foreign residents is considered. [Photo looks up the rise from the north]

Hikawa Shrine, stairsThe eastern entrance of the shrine sports a fine old set of stairs. Hikawa Shrine's web site says that the original building was established in 951 to deify Hitotsugigawara (一ツ木ヶ原), Lord of Toyoshima County in Musashi State (武蔵州豊島郡) - present day Kita Ward (北区) in Tokyo - just outside the Akasaka Gate. A hundred years later in 1066 there was a long drought in Kantou, and after the miraculous rainfall of their prayers were met, much rejoicing occurred at the shrine. This is because Hikawa was first a shrine to a river god in Saitama, and the 200-some-odd Hikawa Shrines in Kantou were frequented by rice farmers dependent on water. After the eighth Shogun was enshrined here, each of the following six successors would visit to ask for blessing from the former Shogun's spirit.

Hikawa ShrineIn the Edo period the shrine was listed in famous tourist location guides, and was part of the "7 Edo Hikawa Circuit". This one-day pilgramage included [1] the original Akasaka Gate location, [2] the current location with the former Seitoku Temple (盛徳寺, Seitokuji, moved to Kanagawa), [3] Azabu Hikawa Shrine (麻生氷川神社, in Minato Ward, Moto-Azabu 1-4-23), [4] Haneda Town (羽根田村) (maybe really Haneda, a ferry ride away) , [5] Shibuya Hikawa Shrine (渋谷氷川神社, Shibuya Ward, Higashi 2-5-6), [6] Bannenn Temple Mountain (萬年寺山, Bannenjiyama, possibly near Seishou Temple {青松寺, Minato Ward Atago 2-4-7}), [7] Sengoku Hikawa Shrine (簸川神社, at Bunkyo Ward Sengoku 2-1-10).

Hikawa Rise, bathroomOn the southeast corner is a secret stair. It leads up through the retaining wall to a small Minato Ward park, which is actually the south end of the shrine grounds. At the head of the stairs is a toilet. If you need a break, this is a good time for a holy cr....

Posted by Rob Ketcherside at September 30, 2006 8:56 PM
Lost Seattle
Check out my book Lost Seattle for more explorations of history and urbanism.
These pages are an archive. For my new content, visit ba-kground.com.
Copyright Rob Ketcherside; contact roket swirly gwu.edu