In the traditional Asakusa area of Tokyo, about a 20 minute walk from the famous “Sensoji” temple, you can reach the Yoshiwara Shrine.
This small but beautiful shrine is one of the few things left from the past that characterized this section of Tokyo.
The Yoshiwara district was in the Edo period (1603-1868), the red area of the city of Edo (today Tokyo). Here were the best houses of Oiran (high-class courtesans), and everyone was treated equally, from a peasant to a samurai.
It was mandatory to leave the weapons at the entrance of Yoshiwara before passing. This was home to more than 9,000 women from all over Japan.
The most anticipated by the inhabitants of Yoshiwara was the elegant and magnificent procession of the Oiran. At this time, the Oiran was the biggest superstar in the place, and it was very common for her to be revered by the citizens. When the Meiji era arrived in 1868, the district gradually lost power due to the new regulations since in 1913 there was a great fire that destroyed almost the entire district.
Again with the great Tokyo earthquake in 1924, much of the sector was set on fire resulting in the death of many female workers.
> Finally after the Yoshiwara Shrine was rebuilt and the city returned to its normal state, in the great bombing of Tokyo in 1945 carried out by the US Army, the shrine and all of Yoshiwara were burned and destroyed to nothing.
After the Second World War, the new constitution imposed by the United States began to take effect and Yoshiwara was rebuilding itself as a normal neighborhood. Today, Yoshiwara corresponds to the district of Taito in the city of Tokyo.
At first glance, Yoshiwara today looks very similar to many other modern Tokyo neighborhoods. However, it preserves legacies from its past, as it contains the street grid pattern, plus the temples and shrines of bygone times still exist.
Fortunately, the Yoshiwara Shrine was rebuilt in 1968 and is divided into two parts. The first is where the place to pray and obtain the Omamori (protection) of the sanctuary is located. The second part is about a 4 minute walk from the main shrine and is a garden with a small pond with Koi fish and a large image of the goddess Benzaiten drawn on the wall.
There is also a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, remembering all the people who perished in Yoshiwara during the Tokyo earthquake.
This place today is blessed by the Goddess Benzaiten. She is the goddess of the arts, prosperity and abundance, protector of women and artists.
Yoshiwara Shrine is dedicated to her, and is one of the few reminders of what the district was like in times past.