Oji

Oji Station is located in the Oji district of Kita Ward of Tokyo, and is served by Tokyo Metro Namboku Line and JR Keihin Tohoku Line.

The Tokyo Metro station is located underground, whereas the JR station is on elevated ground above. On ground level is the Toden Arakawa Line station, but this is called Oji-ekimae Station.

Oji , located in the north of Tokyo on high ground overlooking Ara River, was once one of the most beautiful and scenic places of the area. Ever since prehistoric times, villagers grew rice in this area, and to bless the fields, a shrine for Inari, the god of rice harvest, was erected here. This shrine stands here till today. During the Edo period, cherry and maple trees were planted on hilltops and valleys to attract people from Edo. Soon after the trees matured and bloomed, Oji became a favorite of the shoguns for hanami parties. The shrine also prospered as more and more people came to pray here, and within a short period of time it became the most important Inari shrine of the Kanto region. Later during the Meiji period, paper-making factories were set up in Oji and the district became known as a paper-making area. The prosperity of the place didn't last long, as during the World War II bombings, much of the place was destroyed. Today, even after a lot of reconstruction, Oji still has a few historical places and people still flock here to the many parks to view the cherry blossoms in spring.

Oji Shrine

Oji Shrine, located 5 minutes' walk from Oji Station, is one of the most important shrines of Tokyo. Declared by Emperor Meiji as one of the “Ten Shrines of Tokyo” in 1868, devotees visit it as part of a pilgrimage.

Oji Shrine was founded by a warlord in the 14 th century. It is located on top of a hill and is reached on climbing a few stone steps. Upon climbing the steps, on the left hand side there is a huge 20-meter high gingko tree. This tree, said to have been planted over 650 years ago, has been designated a natural monument by the Metropolitan Government of Tokyo. The shrine building is located in the middle of a large well-kept compound. In contrast to the place and the gingko tree, the Oji Shrine building is relatively new, having been reconstructed after the Second World War.

Oji Shrine is also known for its Kumade-Ichi , or the Rake Fair , which is held here every December 6. Kumade is a bamboo ornamental rake, which is decorated with many lucky charms. During the festival, kumades of various sizes and shapes are displayed and sold. People buy these rakes to bring them good luck. As each rake is sold, vendors celebrate with a handclap.

Oji Inari Shrine

Oji Inari Shrine is another important shrine located a short walk from Oji Shrine. Dedicated to Inari, the god of rice harvest, it is one of the oldest shrines of the area. It is also considered the head Inari shrine of the eight provinces of Kanto. The Inari deity Daimyojin is also said to be enshrined here. It is believed that on New Year's Eve, foxes, who are considered to be the guardians and messengers of god Inari, gather here from all over the Kanto region. After being transformed into court ladies at the nearby Shozoku Inari, they come here at Oji Inari Shrine to pray.

The gate to the Inari Shrine grounds is guarded on both sides by a pair of stone foxes that date back to 1764. Other smaller stone foxes donated by worshippers and several stone monuments can be seen all over the grounds. The main shrine building was built in 1808 in the traditional style. The inner sanctum of the shrine is located at the back of the building.

An annual event of the shrine is the Oji Fox Parade that is held each year on New Year's Eve to honor the foxes that are said to gather here on the night. Local residents, dressed in traditional dress and wearing paper-maché fox masks, gather at nearby Shozoku Shrine. From here they parade to Oji Inari Shrine. On the Oji Inari Shrine grounds, bonfires are lit and the participants dance around it. Food and drink stalls are put up for the participants and visitors who gather to watch the parade.

Another festival held at Oji Inari Shrine is the Tako Ichi , or the Kite Festival . This annual festival, which dates back to the Edo period, is held on February 6 each year. On this day kites are sold and flown on the shrine grounds. Kites hold an important place in Japanese culture as it is believed that they cut the wind and stop fires from spreading.

Asukayama Park

Asukayama Park is one of the best known parks of Tokyo, and a major cherry blossom viewing spot of the city. Located next to the JR Oji Station, it has been a recreation area for the public since the Edo times. It was opened to the public by Tokugawa Yoshimune. It was also on his orders that cherry trees from the Edo Castle were transplanted into the park. Every April during the cherry blossom days, people from all over Tokyo gather here for hanami parties. The best part about cherry blossom viewing at Asukayama Park is that it lasts much longer than at other places. This is because here there are two types of cherry trees, and their blossoming times are different. During the cherry viewing festival, the park is crowded with people. Special events like dance and music performances, costume contests, ukiyoe (printing) exhibitions, and tea ceremonies are held throughout the day. Food and drinks are also on sale.

There are also two monuments at Asukayama Park – one dedicated to Asukayama no Hi, which has also been designated a cultural property by the Tokyo Metropolitan

Government; and the other dedicated to Sakuma Shozan, the Edo-period scholar. The park also has fountains, an outdoor stage, and children's playgrounds with wading pools.

Asukayama Park also has three museums on its grounds – the Shibusaw Memorial Museum, the Kita City Asukayama Museum, and the Paper Museum - all opened in 1998.

Shibusawa Memorial Museum

Shibusawa Memorial Museum is a “memorial” to Shibusawa Eichi (1840-1931). Often called founder of Japan's modern economy, Shibusawa Eichi devoted his life to found and encourage many different businesses of diverse nature – among them First National Bank, Imperial Hotel, and Oji Paper. The Museum is a dedication to his achievements.

The main building of the museum houses most of Eichi's possessions. On the ground floor is a large conference hall that shows an elaborate film on Eichi and his achievements. The other rooms have panels that display Eichi's letters to different people, all his business documents, and several photographs. On reaching the upper floor, the first thing that one encounters is a life-size photograph of Shibusawa Eichi taken when he was 27 years old. Right behind this photograph is another one of Dai-Ichi Bank, established by him. Attached to this main museum building is another building called the Aiisonso. This building was originally used by Eichi as his summer villa. Later he shifted there and made it his permanent residence.

Opposite these two buildings is a garden - Old Shibusawa Garden. This garden is free and open to the public. Located in the garden are Bankoro and Seien Bunko – two structures that have been designated I mportant Historical Facilities by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. Bankoro, a teahouse built in 1917, was used by Shibusawa to entertain his guests. Guests who have been entertained here include the 18th U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, and Chiang Kai Shek. The other structure, Seien Bunko, is a library donated to Shibusawa by supporters when he was promoted to baron in 1925. This structure is best known for its beautiful stained glass windows.

Kita City Asukayama Museum

The Kita Asuayama Museum is situated right next to Shibusawa Memorial Museum. This museum offers everything related to the history, archeology and folklore of Oji and all the surrounding areas of Kita. Divided into 14 themes, the museum offers almost everything related to Kita. Prominent among these are the pit dwellings of the Yayoi Period (500 BC to 300 AD), storehouses from the Heian Period (794-1192) , woodblock depictions of the Edo Period (1603-1867), and World War II tinted photos. On the third floor of the museum building is a restaurant where visitors can have lunch or snacks. There is also a library and a study room on the same floor.

Paper Museum

Oji is where the first Western-style paper making was started by Shibusawa Eichi. It was here that he first opened his Shoshi Paper factory in 1873, which later became Oji Paper Co., Ltd. The Paper Museum is a dedication to this. With more than 50,000 items on display, the museum offers a history of paper and paper making, including its many different uses. The museum also conducts workshops and seminars on topics related to paper. There is also a Museum Shop that has a variety of paper related items on sale.

 

Otonashi shinsui Park

 

Otonashi shinsui Park is another of Tokyo's top parks. Located right next to Oji Station, it offers all the original beauty of Oji. Among the recreated originals are Gongen-no-Taki Waterfall (that was once located near where the park is), and Funakushi Bridge (originally constructed in 1907 and later destroyed). Cherry trees and andon-style lanterns throughout the park add to the beauty of the place. The poetic charm of the place has made Otonashi shinsui Park a favorite among both adults and children.

 

Nanushinotaki Park

 

Nanushinotaki Park, located a few minutes on foot from Oji Station, is still another of the many parks of the area. Originally owned by the Nanushi Hatano Family of Oji Village, it was opened to the public by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government after World War II. The park, with its artificial waterfalls, ponds full of goldfish, overhanging maple trees, and beautiful landscaping, is one of the most beautiful parks of Tokyo.

 

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Featured Hotels in the Oji area that we represent
Mets Akabane Hotel      
Mets Akabane Hotel (N-16)

Located just 3 minutes walk from Oji Station, Mets Akabane Hotel aims to provide guests with the most comfortable and convenient stay. Easy access to business and sight-seeing locations of Tokyo are the added advantages.

     
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