Ikuta (Jinja) Shrine is located in the Sannomiya area of the Kobe City in Hyogo Prefecture. The Sannomiya area in Kobe city is considered as the downtown of the Kobe City, so Ikuta Shrine is mostly a neighborhood shrine (located on the end of Ikuta Road) and is a very important shrine for the residents of Kobe City. It is also extremely popular with the commercial establishments of the Kobe city, as you can see when you walk towards the shrine, there are many advertisements for various business in and around the Kobe City area.
Ikuta Shrine can be easily reached by a few minutes walk from either JR Sannomiya or Hankyu Sannomiya Stations.
Ikuta Shrine is said to have been established in the third century AD as was mentioned in the Nihon-Shoki. The worshiped Kami (goddess) at this Shrine is Wakahiru-me-no-Mikoto. The mythology describes this goddess as either the peaceful spirit (nigi-mitama) of the highest deity in Japan, the Sun Goddess Amaterasu-Omikami, or her sister.
Ikuta Shrine Seal
In AD 806, about 44 kambe (in ancient Japan, Kambe are the members of a community attached to a Shinto shrine and responsible for maintaining it's rice paddies) were sent to this shrine by the Emperor to maintain this Shrine. The word Kambe written in Kanji is also pronounced as "Kobe". Since then the place around the shrine started to be called as Kobe and became one of the most diverse, modern and internationalized cities in Japan.
According to the Heian period work Engishiki, when visitors from the Korean peninsula arrived in Japan, as state guests they were offered rice wine. Rice was brought from each region in Japan and within the precincts of the Ikuta shrine the head priest brewed the rice wine, presenting it to the nobles from Korea. To commemorate this event there is a small shrine called Matsuno Shrine built in the Ikuta Shrine precincts as a dedication to the God of Sake Brewing.
From outside, Ikuta Shrine looks like a small neighborhood shrine but if you go inside, you will see it to be a fairly decent sized shrine, with a small forest (wooded area) in the back, appropriately named as "Ikuta Forest". The forest and the main worship hall (seen in the picture above) were once the site of a battle in the Genpei War of 1184.
The Kobe area in the Kansai region in the recent years had suffered many natural and man-made disasters in the form of heavy flooding from the river in 1938, the World War Two air raids on Kobe in 1945, and the damage from the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995. Each time it had risen from the ashes, stronger and more vibrant. During every one of these tragic circumstances, Ikuta Shrine had provided much needed respite and strength to the people of Kobe city.