Author: Richard Perkins
Photos/Video Taken: 2021/04/30
Address: 2-4-14 Nihombashi-muromachi,
福徳神社 (fukutoku jinja) is a Shintō shrine in the Chūō ward of Tokyo that is dedicated to 宇迦之御魂神 (uka-no-mitama-no-mikoto), the god of abundant crops and harvests. It’s unknown when this shrine was built but is said that it existed during the Jōgan years (860-876) in Japan when Emperor Seiwa (the 56th emperor of Japan) ruled the country. The reconstructions of the shrine gate and the main shrine were completed in 2014.
The shrine here was originally worshipped as an 稲荷神社 (inari jinja), or Inari shrine, which is dedicated to the goddess 稲荷 (inari), which is the goddess of abundant crops (such as rice) and the goddess of agriculture. It was worshiped by the Fuktoku village, part of the village of Musashino, which is where this shrine’s name originates. As Fukutoku shrine was also worshiped as an Inari shrine, it’s also referred to as "Fukutoku Inari Shrine".
It was said that in the new year of 1614 Tokugawa Hidetada, the second 将軍 (shōgun—military general) of the Tokugawa dynasty, visited Fukutoku shrine, praising it as “having a very festive name”. The shrine gate that stood at this time was made from Japanese chestnut oak, from which young buds sprouted out. From this, Fukutoku shrine was also given the name 芽吹稲荷 (mebuki inari). 芽吹き (mebuki) meaning “to sprout” (as in a bud sprouts) in Japanese.
When Fukutoku shrine was originally built, it was a grand and imposing shrine that was said to be either surrounded by a forest or by rice paddies and vegetable plots. The forest that was said to be here was referred to as the “Inari forest”. At one end of this forest, it’s said that there was a milestone here. These milestones were posts set up in the Edo period (1603-1868) that measured 里 (ri), a Japanese form of measurement that’s roughly 4 kilometers, on highways throughout the country. Unfortunately, the milestone that was in this forest here was destroyed in an earthquake that occurred on January 8th, 1657.