The Japanese Amulet
Most Shinto shrines have amulets to take away, such as for success in exams or sporting competitions, health, love, birth, travel safety etc.
To the Japanese, these are symbolic of a prayer, as well as an ‘omiyage’ souvenir to show that they have visited a certain shrine, much like taking back a pebble from the grounds. Strictly speaking, once your prayer has been answered, you should go back to the same shrine to give thanks. Also, in order to ward off bad luck, you shuold visit the shrine, usually during the New Year holiday, to old one, and get a new one for a fresh start to the year.
Togo,deified for his victories
Togo Jinja“ Tighten your helmet strings in the hour of victory ”
The world‐famous japanese Admiral Heihachiro Togo (1847-1934)
Birth and Training
The name of Heihachiro Togo is world‐famous and ranks alongside Lord Nelson as one of the worlds ’greatest Admirals.
Togo was born on December 22,1847,as the fourth son of a samurai,Togo Kichizaemon, in the Kajiya‐cho district of the Satsuma province (now Kagoshima Prefecture in Kyushu). At the age of sixteen he witnessed the Bombardment of Kagoshima during the battle between the Satsuma clan and Great Britain. It was then he decided to join the Navy, having keenly recognized the necessity of Japan having a powerful one.
In pursuit of this aspiration, after enrolling into the Satsuma navy at the age of nineteen and participating in battle before and after the Meiji Restoration, he studied naval science at the age of 24 in England from 1871 to 1898. In particular, he was assigned as a cadet aboard the HMS Worcester and underwent strenuous training. During this period, Togo had to suffer great anguish, as a group of ex‐samurai from Satsuma rebelled in Kagoshima against the new Meiji goverment(the Seinan War). Whilst feeling very anxious for his own clan, Togo endured the hard training overseas and returned to Japan after the seven years, equipped with both knowledge and technique, and the naval spirit. He became a very able captain in the Imperial Japanese Navy. The training he received in England as well as the strict upbringing he had received as a son of a samurai must have played an essential part in building up his character.
The Russo‐Japanese War and the Battle of the Japan Sea
War is a very tragic thing but sometimes it is the only way for nations to resolve their disputes. The next war in Japan's history was the Russo-Japanese War(1904-1905) during the days of Czarist Russia. This was the war which determined Japan's fate. On the continent of China, the Japanese landforces under General Nogi fought valiantly and won a great victory at Mukden. But the Japanese forces were on the verge of exhaustion. The Japanese Navy had engaged the Russian Far Eastern fleet on several occasions, but the final battle was with the pride of the Russian Navy, the Baltic Fleet. As Commander-in-Chief of the combined Japanese fleet, Admiral Togo promised Emperor Meiji that Japan would win. He kept that promise in a brilliant fashion.
The story of how Admiral Togo raised the “Z”flag on the mast of his flagship,the Mikasa, on May 27, 1905, in the Tsushima Straits, and called upon his men to fight for their country saying;“The destiny of our Empire depends on this battle, let every man do his duty” is well known in Japan. In the Battle of the Japan Sea, 19 Russian warships were sunk and five others captured. The entire Russian fleet was practically put out of commission. The Japanese fleet lost only three small torpedo boats. It was a dramatic and decisive victory, which not only saved Japan from a national crisis, but also gave great joy and hope to those countries under pressure of colonial policies from great states such as Russia.
This great victory with its place in the annals of world history was undoubtedly realized through the brilliant strategy of Admiral Togo and the immense studies and training he had undergone, and the actions of his men who had complete trust in him.
International Law and the British Ship Incident
Togo studied strategy and international law too, which stood him in good stead for when he was captain of the warship Naniwa at the time of the coup d'etat in Hawaii against Queen Lili'vokalani in 1893, when Queen was attempting to end the unequal treaty with the US.
He aiso later took part in the Battle of the Yalu, when the Naniwa was the last ship in the line of battle, and at the time of the US annexation of Hawaii.
Also, in July 1894, after the outbreak of the First Sino‐Japanese War(1894‐1895), the Naniwa commanded by Togo sank a British vessel the Kowshing, which was carrying Chinese soldiers off the Korean peninsula. This almost caused a diplomatic conflict between Japan and Great Britain but on close examination of the incident it was recognized that Togo had acted in total conformity with international law. This marked Togo's name in history and made him famous overnight for his mastery of contentious issues involving foreign countries and regulations.
After the War, Togo, a man of integrity
Having brought Japan out of the Battle of the Japan Sea with a tremendous victory, Admiral Togo became a hero in the eyes of the entire world and was nicknamed “the Nelson of the East”. As a serviceman at the beginning of the Taisho era, Togo reached the highest rank of Admiral of the Fleet and in social status he was made a Marquis.
Educating the Crown Prince
Emperor Taisho had such faith in Togo that in 1914 he asked him to head the school attached to the Togu Palace of the Crown Prince. Togo declined the honour at first, but later accepted the appointment, thus being in charge of the education of the Crown Prince(the later Empire Showa), a task he performed for seven years, with full understanding of the unique responsibilities inherent in it.
Togo lived his life through the three eras of Meiji, Taisho and Showa with integrity and service, as a leading figure. He gained respect not just from within Japan but from people all over the world, earning himself the name “the Great Togo”.
Despite these honours, he never spoke of war nor of his own achievements in battle, nor did he ever meddle in politics. Throughout his entire life, he always strived to be a man of the highest honours and sincerity.
The Togo Jinja is dedicated to the late Togo, Admiral of the Fleet
His spirit enshrined
On May 30, 1934, Togo, Admiral of the Fleet, breathed his last at the advanced age of 87 years. immediately, many petitions and donations from all over Japan flooded into the Admiralty asking that the life and values of Togo be honoured, and to ensure his name was conveyed to posterity.
In response to such enthusiasm, the then Naval Minister, Mineo Oosumi, talked to well-informed persons and experts from various circles, and a Togo Memorial Society was formed. It was decided to build s shrine in Togo's honours using donations from all over the country. The house of Marquis Ikeda, the former feudal lord of Tottori, was selected for its proximity to the Meiji Shrine as the site of the enshrined land. The Togo Jinja was completed on May 27, 1940 the day of the victory of the Battle of the Japan Sea, the then Navy Commemoration Day.
During an air-raid in WWⅡ, the shrine was burnt down. The current buildings were completed in May 1964, as the modern-style, concrete ones of today.
Each year, on May 28, a gala festival is observed at the shrine in Togo's honour.
While passing down the history of how Togo led the Japanese fleet to victory at the time of the Russo-Japanese War, thus saving the country, Togo Jinja looks after many cherished spirits and prays for the current generation.
Of the foundation
at that time Togo Jinja
Current Togo Jinja
Admiral Togo: The man deified for his victories at the Togo Jinja
The “Z-flag” and its message
Heihachiro Togo, the man deified at Togo Jinja, won a remarkable victory as Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese fleet in the Russo-Japanese War(1904-1905). He had his flagship the MIKASA hang out the “Z-flag”, and to inspire morale, said;“The destiny of our Empire depends upon this battle, let every man do his duty”, and shot down the strongest Baltic fleet, the pride of the Russian Navy. He was deified because of his magnificent accomplishments. We hope you too will be victorious in your endeavours.
Amulets special to Togo Jinja
The Japanese kanji character for “victory” branded on the wooden plaque amulet is an exact replica of Togo's actual handwriting
This is taken from the famous address he made at the time of the dissolution of the combined fleet;“Heaven gives the crown of victory to those only who by habitual preparation win without fighting, and at the same time forthwith deprives of that crown those who, content with one success give, themselves” up to the ease of peace. The ancients well said, ‘Tighten your helmet strings in the hour of victory’”. (Translated by an impressed US President Theodore Roosevelt)