Yokosuka’s ‘lover’s shrines’ promise to grant Valentine’s wishes

Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

Yokosuka’s ‘lover’s shrines’ promise to grant Valentine’s wishes

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

It’s that time again to grab that box of chocolates and surprise your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day. Lucky for you if you live near Yokosuka Naval Base, there is a power spot where couples and singles go to wish for love or marriage.

Uraga is a hair-pin shaped narrow bay that shields ships from heavy wind and high tide, offering an ideal port to any type of ship. You sure will enjoy great views of the blue bay, fishing and cargo ships berthed in the port on one side and mountains on the other, as you stroll along the bayside.

There are two traditional Shinto shrines facing each other with a quarter mile of bay separating them.  Known as the Lover’s Shrines, they are both called “Kano Jinja” (literally “shrine of wishes-come-true”), and are distinguished from each other by the location - Nishi Kano Shrine (west shrine) and Higashi Kano Shrine (east shrine).

It is a popular attraction for those looking for love and the shrines have a unique tradition to lock in the wish. At Nishi Kano Shrine, visitors purchase a magatama (comma-shaped bead) then place it inside an omamoribukuro (amulet case) only sold at Higashi Kano Shrine across the bay. Completing this task is said to bring luck, love and a wedding, if that is your wish.

I visited both shrines recently—but not for myself, as I am a married man, you know! A coworker of mine wanted to visit for their own wish.

Nishi Kano Shrine, built in 1842, was our first stop. The bead here was 500 yen (or about $4). We then headed via orange ferry boat to the Higashi Kano Shrine. This short cruise is an enjoyable way to look out over the bay and appreciate the port and ships docked there.

The east shrine, compared to its counterpart, is brighter and has a more open atmosphere with its tall shrine building and light green roof. We walked up the stone stairs and as we faced the shrine, made a wish for my coworker. With another 500 yen, I bought the coveted amulet case to secure my coworker’s wish.

The bead from the West Shrine fit in the cute amulet case perfectly. It sure will make her wish come true! As it is tiny and cute, this lucky charm can be a great souvenir for friends or family members.

Visit alone or with your sweetheart or with a friend (or coworker) who needs a little help in the love department. Whether or not my coworker’s luck changed after that visit is yet to be seen, but it was still fun to visit and wish for her future happiness. Maybe you’ll have better luck and the Lover’s Shrines will make your Valentine’s wish sure will come true.

Higashi Kano Jinja (east Kano shrine)
Location: 2-21-25 Higashi Uraga, Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Pref.
Admission: Free
URL: https://www.cocoyoko.net/spot/higashi-kanou-z.html
TEL: 046-841-5300
Nishi Kano Jinja (west Kano shrine)
Location: 1-1-13 Nishi Uraga, Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Pref.
Admission: Free
URL: http://kanoujinja.p1.bindsite.jp/
TEL: 046-841-0179

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