Though peaceful, this shrine to Benzaiten comes with a legend that’s far from serene. Supposedly, the goddess has a rather jealous side and unleashes her spite at any lovestruck couples who pass by.
The serene shrine stands atop an island within a lake within a large park in the west of Tokyo. Because Benzaiten is a goddess of water, her shrine tends to be built on a waterfront. The statue of Benzaiten housed in the shrine depicts a beautiful goddess with eight arms. It’s a hibutsu (“hidden Buddha”) that’s shown to the public only once in 12 years, in the year of snake.
And though beautiful, this goddess has a rather sinister urban legend attached to her. Couples are warned to avoid the park because going there will cause Benzaiten to get jealous and curse the couple, causing them to break up. This legend has been around for decades and is even known to people outside Tokyo.
Despite this ominous legend, you can see many couples there every day. The park might be too beautiful to miss just for a rumor, especially in spring when cherry blossoms fringe the lake. The park also offers other attractions like swan boats, a small zoo, and the Ghibli Museum.
Know Before You Go
It's one minute on foot from Inokashira Kouen Station (Keio Inokahsira Line) and five minutes on foot from Kichijoji Station (JR Chuo Line, JR Soubu Line, Keio Inokashira Line). It takes 15 minutes from Shibuya to Kichijoji via Keio Inokahsira Line express service. There's free entry to the park. The boat ride and the zoo are charged separately. The park is open all day. Inokashira Benzaiten opens from 7:00 to 4:30.