Sannomiya is the heart of Kobe, and Sannomiya Station is the transportation hub of the city, used by hundreds of thousands of people a day. In this same area, where 50 million people come annually, is the busiest shopping area of Kobe, the Sannomiya Center Gai Shopping Street.
If you look 300 meters west from the bus stop, you will see Ikuta Shrine, founded in AD 201. Legend has it that the City of Kobe was named after this historical Shrine
Long ago, the Shrine was originally located in the Izakoyama mountains, north of Shin Kobe Station. However, it was washed away by a flood and was moved to a new location where it now stands.
It is said that Ikuta Shrine collapsed during the flooding because the pine trees surrounding it did not block the water. Pine trees are now a taboo for the Shrine, and even to this day, the Shrine does not have any pine trees planted inside the premises. For this reason, although it is a Japanese New Year custom to decorate the entrance to your home with a pine tree (“kadomatsu”), instead, Ikuta Shrine uses a cedar branch (“sugimori”).
Ikuta Shrine’s sacred forest was so large that it was even mentioned in Japan’s first essay “The Pillow Book”, or “Makuranososhi” (written around the end of 10th century to the beginning of 11th century). However, the scale has shrunken is size over the years, and now remains is only a cluster of trees, surrounded by the city.
Ikuta Shrine is famous for its God of relationships, prosperity in business, health and longevity, and success. The popular Shrine is visited by worshippers all year round.