Enshrining Makino Tadatoki.
Aoshi Shrine has mostly retained its original appearance for almost two and a half
centuries. It survived the devastation of an air raid during World War II, although many
of Nagaoka’s shrines and temples were heavily damaged or destroyed. Parts of it were
rebuilt after World War II.
The Makino family ordered the shrine’s construction in 1781. At that time, the
family led the Nagaoka domain, centered at Nagaoka Castle in what is today the city of
Nagaoka. The design of Aoshi Shrine models that of Nikko Tosho-gu, one of Japan’s
most famous shrines, which is dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543–1616), founder of
the shogunate that ruled Japan for more than two centuries.
Along a path to the rear of the shrine are gravestones of the lords of the Nagaoka
domain. Makino Tadanari (1581–1655) assumed control of Nagaoka Castle in 1618,
and the Makino family ruled for the next twelve generations.
The final Makino to serve as daimyo was Makino Tadakatsu (1859–1918), whose
reign ended in 1871 with the abolition of the feudal system and the end of the local
domains. He would later go on to become a regional governor under Japan’s new
system of government.
A short walk from there lies a memorial to those who gave their lives during two
civil wars, the Boshin War (1868–1869) and the Seinan War (1877). A preserved
torpedo casing from a Japanese submarine forms part of the memorial.
Today, the shrine plays a prominent role in a number of traditional customs. Perhaps
best known is “Shichi-Go-San (“Seven-Five-Three”). This custom is observed for
Japanese children around November 15 each year when families bring children of the
ages 3, 5, and 7 to the shrine to pray for their future well-being, success, and happiness.
Weddings take place in front of the shrine from April to October, and an array of
fortunes and votive tablets are available year-round.
Shrines of this type are traditionally associated with good health and happiness.
These days, however, people visit shrines seeking assistance with a variety of life
Aoshi Shrine is a spiritual and social center for the people of Nagaoka. In times of
joy and times of trouble, it endures as a symbol of hope, peace, and ongoing prosperity
for the city.
This English-language text was created by the Japan Tourism Agency.