Take our user survey here!

Stone Steps to Success at the Atago Shrine

The prominent feature of the Atago Shrine are the very steep 86 stairs known as the Shussei no Ishiden, or "Stone Steps to Success."

By 3 min read

A hidden getaway from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s business district in Minato, the Atago Shrine serves as a symbol of the spiritual traditions that took place in ancient Japan. Although it’s been rebuilt since, the Atago Shrine was first established in 1603 as a place of worship of the Shinto gods, known locally as kami.

At 26 metres above sea level, atop Atago Hill, this Shinto shrine is considered Tokyo’s highest natural point. The location excelled as a lookout point for fires, so it is only fitting that the kami of fire, Kagutsuchi, is worshipped here.

Climbing the Steps

The Atago Shrine is characterized by the front set of stairs that lead up to the shrine’s entrance. It is said that the shogun at the time, Tokugawa Ieyasu, challenged his men to ride their horses up and down the steep steps as a sign of courage and respect. Only a single rider was able to deliver the plum blossoms from the top of the steps to the military chief. As a result of his efforts, the young Samurai moved up in the ranks and went on to live a very successful life.

The stairs are now known as Shussei no Ishiden, which translates to Stone Steps to Success. The tale of the Samurai gave rise to a superstition that claims good fortune will come to those who climb to the top of the steps. Given the shrine’s proximity to many universities and office buildings, it is not unusual to see students and working professionals alike, making the trek up to the shrine with the hope of receiving a blessing from the kami.

Celebrate at the Atago Shrine

The Atago Shrine hosts several events and festivals throughout the year. On the first of every new year, the Japanese attend the Saitan Festival, where they pray to the gods for a fruitful and prosperous year ahead. Halfway through the year in late June is Sennichi Mairi Hoozuki Ennichi, which translates to The Festival of a Thousand Days. The shrine is decorated with hoozuki, a type of Chinese lantern plant, and other traditional Shinto decorations that are believed to bless those who visit the shrine with luck and good health for a thousand days. The most popular festival is Shusse no Ishidan Matsuri, a highly anticipated celebration that takes place every other year in September, to give thanks to the gods. The event features a parade through town, followed by the exciting lantern climb, where men put on a heroic display by carrying a lit portable lantern up the stone steps.

Additional Information

Not to worry if you’re unable to climb the Stone Steps to Success, as the Atago Shrine is also accessible by a gentler set of stairs at the back of the shrine, or by elevator. Regardless of how you choose to reach the top, you will be rewarded with beautiful sights, including the bright red torii gate, a pond full of koi, and of course, the shrines. There’s also a restaurant at the top, where you can enjoy a meal right in the centre of this tranquil sanctuary.

The nearest station is Kamiyacho Station. Although the official website for the Atago Shrine is mostly in Japanese, more information can be found at www.atago-jinja.com/.

Topics: / /

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA - Privacy Policy - Terms of Service



Touch Screen Conveyor Belt Sushi Restaurant

Available in a variety of languages, the customer places their order through the computer and a few minutes later your sushi arrives right to your table!

By 1 min read


Exploring Tokyo On The Yamanote Line

For first time visitors to Tokyo, the Yamanote Line offers a fun and convenient way to see the city.

By 3 min read 4


How to Get an English Teaching Job in Japan

Getting a job in Japan doesn't have to be a complicated process.

By 6 min read 3