Thursday, December 28, 2017

Atago Shrine and Toranomon Hills in Shimbashi

On my last day in Tokyo I decided I wanted to see a little more of the Shimbashi area I was staying in.  I wanted to see Atago Shrine, one of the more famous Shinto Shrines in the area, and the nearby Toranomon Hills skyscraper complex since it was built back in 2014.  There is a pretty nice hotel, the Hyatt Andaz up on the upper floors of the building (out of my price range).  Looking out my hotel window, I saw that is was a pretty beautiful December morning and had a quick breakfast at Yoshinoya before my early morning walk around.  For a change, I wasn't fighting upstream against the stream of people heading to work in the morning from Shimbashi Station as I was heading away from it.

The first place I went was Atago Shrine, which is only a block or so away from Toranomon Hills.  There was some beautiful foliage at the shrine and it was very quiet except for the occasional worshipper, usually passing through on their way to work.  A lot of Shimbashi is offices, but there are residential areas in it.  Atago Shrine dates back to 1603 so it is pretty old and it sits on top of Atago Hill which is 26 metres above sea level.  It used to have an excellent view of Edo, but is dwarfed by the many office buildings and skyscrapers around it now.  The shrine was originally established to protect the city from fire as you could watch the city from it and the main Shinto god here is the fire god Homusubi no Mikoto. 
Main entrance to Atago Shrine.
Main Torii at Atago Shrine.  It's a pretty tall hill even if tall buildings surround it now.
One of the big attractions at the shrine is the Steps of Success.
One of the big attractions about this shrine is the Steps of Success leading up to it.  A samurai was dared to ride his horse up an down these steep stairs in the Edo Period.  He succeeded, with the horse taking only a minute to go up, but 45 minutes to come down.  Afterwards he was successful in anything else he attempted - hopefully the horse got some good loot out of that experience too.  So climb the stairs up and down to succeed in your endeavors.
These are pretty steep stairs, 26 metres high.  They kind of reminded me of the staircases going up and down Mayan pyramids.  Real steep and you don't want to fall.  I was halfway up when I noticed an elderly lady gaining on me, so I had to pick up the pace.  She was in good shape - must have been one of the regulars.
Maple leaves on the steps.
The big Torii at the top of the hill with the main shrine building behind it.
Small gate before the shrine building.
Offertory box at the main shrine building.
Nice gardens here, not huge, but there was a little pond too.
I carefully picked my way back down these steps.  I want to be successful after all, not in intensive care.
Afterwards, I headed over to Toranomon Hills which is an impressively large building with the tip of it being 255.5 metres high - quite a bit taller than the nearby shrine.  The building was part of a revitalization of the area in conjunction with new Loop Road 2. 
Toranomon Hills from a distance.
Getting closer.  It is big, but you don't realize how big it is until you're up close as it is pretty tall.
Gardens to the south and east behind the building.
A pretty neat giant metal sculpture out back.
Toranomon the Cat is a cousin of Doraemon and the official mascot of Toranomon Hills.  He's all dressed up for Xmas here.
The atrium area of the building.
I only visited for about 50 minutes, including a peak at the Andaz which was quite posh as I had to get back to my hotel to check out and continue on with more sightseeing at the Imperial Palace later.  It was a pretty nice little morning stroll.

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