Denden-gu – Kyoto, Japan - Atlas Obscura

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Hōrin-ji Temple

A small shrine dedicated to a god of lightning and electronics. 


Denden-Myōjin is a minor lightning deity once worshipped in some small areas of early medieval Kyoto, identified with a god of agriculture and associated with paddy cultivation, which has a great significance in Japan since rice has been its staple since antiquity.

The only shrine dedicated to Denden-Myōjin was built in the Hōrin-ji Temple complex, an example of Shinto-Buddhism syncretism. Although it was a popular place of worship among the locals, it was lost in the fire during the Hamaguri Gate Rebellion of 1864, not to be restored for another near-century.

In 1956, the mini-shrine was brought back to life in the post-World War II advent of technological innovations, at the suggestion of the then-director of the Kinki Radio Regulatory Board. Denden-Myōjin received a modern update, a new position as the deity of electricity and radio waves given to him. Additionally, a temple-style monument was erected in honor of Thomas Edison and Heinrich Hertz, an unusual sight in the otherwise traditional Shinto shrine.

As time passed by and the world entered a new age of technology, Denden-Myōjin’s godly role was expanded to encompass the field of computer science. Today, the shrine is especially popular among computer technicians, programmers, telephone service providers and the like, as well as owners of electric vehicles, whose safety is prayed for by the Hōrin-ji.

If you ever visit this shrine, be sure to check out its unique omamori charms too: they come in the form of a 16-gigabyte SD memory card, embracing both the ancient Shinto tradition and modern technology.

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August 2, 2022

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