Jan 21, 2013

Drinking at Okunitama Shrine

There is a big shrine called Okunitama Shrine in Fuchu City, Tokyo. On New Year’s Day, a lot of people visit the shrine to offer prayers, and commercial business people set up their food stands along the approach way to the shrine building to provide these visitors with food and drink services. On a festival day of a specific shrine or temple, you can often see its approach way flanked by food and drink stands selling ringo-ame (candy-coated apples), tako-yaki (octopus dumplings), yakisoba (pan-fried noodles), and even tornado potato and doner kabab. There are also those who are selling shellfishes such as turban shells and scallops grilled on charcoal fire. This seems to be a nice place for those who want to drink during the daytime. So, having nothing to do in particular during the New Year’s Holidays, I asked one of my drinking friends to come with me to this place.

This was the first opportunity for going out for drink this year, and I felt I could not wait to have nice grilled seafood and sake, but I first gave my respects to the god. This Okunitama Shrine is said to have been built in 111 A.D., during the period of the Twelfth Emperor Keiko. The enshrined god is Okunitama-no-okami, also known as Okuninushi-no-mikoto.

I stood facing the front shrine, threw a coin into the offertory box, and gave prayers to the god, “please, let me drink a lot of nice sake also in this year.” The enshrined god Okuninushi-no-mikoto is worshiped as a god of nation building, agriculture, commerce, medicine, etc. Will the god satisfy my desire, a quite earthly one?

Anyway, I finished what I had to do. Now, I can drink to my heart’s content.

There are a lot of stands and makeshift restaurants on both sides of the approach way, selling various foods and drinks. Among them, there is an area above which a large sheet is set up to serve as a roof. Under the sheet were tables and chairs, and various food and drink stands such as takoyaki, yakisoba, and hamayaki (charcoal-grilled shellfish) stands. There are also sake, beer, and other drinks. You can buy any food or drink at any stand, bring what you bought to a table, and eat and drink them.

Sake sold there are Hakutsuru, Sawanotsuru, etc., which are major brands and popularly drunk across the country. I bought warmed cup sake of Hakutsuru and paired it with a grilled turban shell, scallops, and oyster. I think shellfish tastes nice with sake. Yummy!