Visiting an anime location in real life- Omi Jingu shrine

The second sunday of my trip to Japan was dedicated to the otaku in me as I was travelling to Omi Jingu, a shrine featured in Chihayafuru, an anime I really like. I also wanted to go to Mt. Hiei, and the train station for the cablecar was just one stop away from Omi Jingu, so this was a win-win for me.
Image from Chihayafuru
Following google maps makes taking trains super easy. Not once did I get lost, which is what I was initially scared of since I was going to an area that is not exactly touristy, and I was travelling alone. Both Omi Jingu and the Sakamoto cable car are in Otsu city, which is sandwiched between Kyoto and lake Biwa.
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When I reached the tiny little station for omi jingu, there was hardly anyone there. It was a residential area and the shrine was a mere 5 minutes away. The park leading to the shrine was empty as well, and it was nice to just slowly take a stroll there.
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And then immediately you see the long staircase leading up to the shrine that seems ever so familiar. It’s a moment that makes you feel like you’re somehow in the anime and it’s really almost magical to finally see the places that inspired the anime in person.
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There was a poster of Chihayafuru there and they were selling Chihayafuru Omamori but other than that the shrine was kept as it is. I’m really glad that they did not 'sell out' the shrine to Chihayafuru, but instead acknowledged it tastefully. It’s really important to remind ourselves that the shrine and karuta inspired Chihayafuru and not the other way around. The shrine was covered in natural beauty and stayed true to its purpose.
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There were a couple of families in traditional attire there and it was really cute to see the little ones waddle around in their kimonos. Other than that the place was dead silent.
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Karuta was on centre stage at the shrine with several sets of the cards on display, since karuta tournaments are held there every year (which is why the shrine is featured in Chihayafuru). The shrine usually gets more popular during these tournaments.
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There were also several clocks and sundials on display around the shrine, which were really cool. This is as the shrine also hosts the Omi Jingu clock museum in its precincts.
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The shrine was very peaceful and calming. It’s a nice get away from all the crowds. When I was exiting the area there was a little flea market at the main walkway of the park, selling trinkets and snacks.
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Anime 'pilgrimages' are a great way to explore lesser known areas in Japan. It also adds an extra layer of enjoyment to your sightseeing, as many of these places have little shout outs (like posters and pamphlets) to the anime! It can lead you to some beautiful places you wouldn't have otherwise heard of, and I think that's a really wonderful thing. I really recommend this pretty shrine, especially if you love Chihayafuru!

Asha Mehta