After my trip to Shiroi Koibito “Chocolate Factory” Park, I had lunch at a supermarket nearby the Miyanosawa station. When I felt satisfied of the meal in bento, I took the train towards the Maruyama Station for the next attraction in my list – the famous Shinto sanctum in Sapporo – Hokkaido Shrine.
Hokkaido shrine is built amidst a small forest. It took me roughly 10 to 15 minutes to walk from the entrance gate of the park towards the holy temple. But before heading to the shrine, I spent some time exploring the woods. I have enjoyed kids playing frisbee and families having picnics at the grassy space in one spot, and another group of teenagers running stress-free around the tall trees.
Following the pathway towards the Hokkaido Shrine, you will come across this Torii gate. This gate is a traditional Japanese symbol which means one is transitioning from secular to sacred. Most Japanese shrines have this gate and is a known icon that signify a shrine is ahead.
Before entering Hokkaido shrine, visitors must cleanse their selves first by washing their hands using the spring water from this small pond – take a ladle-full of water and let it stream on one hand then another ladle-full for the other. I have also seen some devotees even drinking water from the ladle after they have washed their hands.
I didn’t get inside the Hokkaido shrine, I just thought I am not worthy to step in the actual building, which is good because I didn’t actually wash my hands with the spring water as I have only learnt the cleansing procedure after my tour.
At the foyer area, a number of wooden stands with strings of ribboned paper strips are easily noticeable. For a cost of JPY100, you can draw a strip of paper containing your fortune called the Omikuji. If it says something good, you may keep the strip and it will serve as a lucky charm for that good fortune to somehow always be with you or occur to you. If a bad fortune or Daikyou is drawn, you can leave the strip at the shrine by simply tying it on the strings rather than binding it to the bearer. I assume the shrine will take care of the bad fortunes.
The wishes and prayers written in wooden tags called Ema can also be tied to a separate stand.
At one part of the shrine is a couple of ladies in white kimono selling these blessed lucky charms. From a price of JPY500 to JPY1000, I bought each for my mom (Deity bell amulet for protection and luck), dad (blue Hadamamori amulet for total protection), my sisters (Happiness crystal amulet) and myself (cherry blossom bell amulet for luck).
After exiting the shrine, I have wandered around the small forest some more and admired the thousands of trees beautifully lined up. These are cherry trees which I imagine to be of a heavenly sight during the cherry blossom season. In Hokkaido Shrine, I have unearthed the quietude I needed for a while.