Myogon-ji, commonly known as Toyokawa Inari, is a Soto Zen temple founded in 1441, and is located in Toyokawa City, Aichi Prefecture. Inari is generally thought to be a Shinto deity, but here at Myogon-ji, it’s another name for a Buddhist divinity called Dakini-ten.
Dakini-ten is a deity originated in India, and after it arrived at Japan with Buddhism, it soon came to be regarded as the same being as Shinto god Inari and had been treated as such until the Meiji Restoration which took place in the late 19th century.
When the Meiji government brutally separated Buddhist gods and Shinto gods, this temple declared that its Inari is not a Shinto divinity but a Buddhist one, and thus the shrine survived unseparated from the temple.
This is why Myogon-ji has a large Inari shrine on its grounds. Myogon-ji’s Inari shrine is often regarded as one of the top three Inari in Japan, and though sometimes it’s not included in the three, there is no doubt that it is one of the most famous Inari shrine in the nation.
Most of Myogon-ji’s structures including the Inari shrine were built in the Meiji era or later, but they are pretty large.
In the corner of the precincts there is an area called Reikozuka, which is surrounded with more than a thousand statuettes of foxes, since foxes are thought to be messengers of Inari (sometimes, Inari itself is thought to be a fox.) In the middle of the area, there’s a stone mound, and you may see people poking the mound trying to get coins stuck in the holes of the mound.
It is said that if you manage to get a coin from this mound, it will increase your fortune, and if you were successful the following year, you must put back coins to this mound, this time more than 10 times the amount you took.
Where to eat around Myogon-ji
Candle is a coffee shop located to the north of Myogon-ji. Though it’s officially a coffee shop, it’s effectively a restaurant serving substantial meals.
They offer wide range of breakfast special from light to heavy. Of course, it also serves many dishes for lunch and dinner, for example teppan-yaki, pork fillet cutlets, and pilaf.
Where to stay around Myogon-ji
Comfort Hotel Toyokawa
Comfort Hotel Toyokawa is a budget hotel we highly recommend. It offers nice service for reasonable room rates, and we might as well say it’s the best hotel in Toyokawa City.
There’s no superb equipment or amazing services here, but it offers free and balanced breakfasts, a free-to-use parking lot, cozy rooms, and decent services by kind staff members, for 3,000 to 8,000 yen a stay.
Castle Inn Toyokawa
Castle Inn Toyokawa is another budget hotel as good as Comfort Hotel Toyokawa. The selling points of this facility are that it has a large public bath which includes an open-air tub, and that it offers nice buffet-style breakfast. Its room rates are from 4,000 to 8,000 yen.
Myogon-ji is a strange Buddhist temple that doesn’t seem like one. Though it’s a Buddhist facility, it is one of the top three Inari in Japan, and there’s even a large torii gate.
There are many statues of foxes around a mound, and many nobori (banners) are placed along the passage. If you want to see a kitsch temple rather than a conventional one, this is a nice place to visit.