But despite the fact that all that is true, you probably wouldn't believe me when I told you that there also happens to be a Toshogu just outside of the city. And of course I would be lying if I said that that didn't have anything to do with my answer!
Hokkaido Toshogu isn't the most northern Toshogu, as there supposedly is one in a shrine just north of Sapporo, but it is a big one, giving its name to the surrounding community of its current location, and it has a history that I can appreciate as someone who has not lived at a single address longer than three years since elementary school!
Its beginnings are unclear, but the shrine now known as Hokkaido Toshogu is said to date back to the late 18th or very start of the 19th century, either prior to or at the time Ezo (the name for Hokkaido during the Edo period) was put under direct control of the shogunate. It seems to have originally been part of Toju-in, a Tendai temple under the patronage of the shogunate and one of the three most important temples on the island. Toshogu was moved in 1864 when, in the last years of the Edo period, the Hakodate magistrate's office and Goryokaku were built. Toshogu was moved to Kamiyama, a village to the north east of Goryokaku. This placed Toshogu at the important "demon gate," guarding the fort from the unluckiest of directions. The village was also renamed at the time, changing the way the name had been written from 上山村 (Kamiyama-mura: upper mountain village) to 神山村 (Kamiyama-mura: sacred mountain village). The Toshogu is known to have been well-loved by the villagers and visited regularly for special prayers for the shogunal family, the emperor, and the village itself. This is likely due at least in part to the financial benefits to the village of having the shrine relocated and rebuilt in their village.
Unfortunately, however, only days after the monthly rituals on the first day of the fifth month of 1864, the main building of the shrine caught fire and burned to the ground. The shrine moved temporarily while building was begun on a new shrine on the Kamiyama site, but in the meantime the Meiji Restoration happened. Hakodate, however, was still in Tokugawa hands and they felt Kamiyama was too far away, so Toshogu was moved closer to the city in 1874. It then moved a further three times in the following five years and settling for a while before being moved to its current location in 1991 and being named Hokkaido Toshogu.
The first torii gate is a rather modern-looking one on the main road, a few minute drive from the shrine itself.
The second torii is more traditional
and the shrine grounds are green and wide open - much like Hokkaido itself!
Although it looks like (and felt like) there is not a soul around, the priest drove up in his car (in black Shinto priest robes!) as we were throwing coins in the box and doing our two bows, two claps, one bow.
U dashed off immediately to get our shrine stamp books, and the priest good naturedly (although somewhat bemused and not quite sure of who or what we were) stamped our books and sent us on our way with pamphlets.