Kanda Shrine (Kanda-myoujin, formerly Kanda-jinja), was first built in the second year of the Tenpyou Era (730 AD), in the fishing village of Shibasaki, near the modern Ootemachi district. In order to accommodate the expansion of Edo Castle, the shrine was later moved to the former Kanda ward in 1603, then moved once again to its modern site on a small hill near Akihabara in 1616. The shrine has been rebuilt and restored many times. The current structure was destroyed in the 1923 Great Kantou earthquake and rebuilt in 1934 with concrete, and thus survived the Tokyo firebombing of WWII. Unlike many of Japan's historical structures, restoration is being done on Kanda Shrine, and work continues today.
The two-storey main gate, Zuishin-mon (隨神門), marks the entrance to Kanda Shrine. Zuishin-mon was reconstructed in 1995 with cypress wood, and is built with an irimoya styled roof. The shrine building is constructed in the Shinto style of Gongen-zukuri. It is painted vermilion, and decorated with gold and lacquered interiors. Many sculptures of its enshrined kami can be found on the building grounds.
The three major kami enshrined are Daikokuten, Ebisu, and Taira no Masakado. As Daikokuten and Ebisu both belong to the Seven Gods of Fortune, Kanda Shrine is a popular place for businessmen and entrepreneurs to pray for wealth and prosperity.
Taira no Masakado however, was a samurai who rebelled against the Heian government, and was later elevated to the status of kami out of reverence. He is an important figure in the shrine's history. After his death in 940, his head was separated from his body and delivered to the Shibaraki area, near the shrine's location today. Locals who respected his defiance enshrined him in Kanda Shrine, and his spirit is said to watch over the surrounding areas. It was rumored that when his shrine fell into disrepair, Masakado's angry spirit wrought natural disasters and plagues upon the nearby lands. It is also said that shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu felt uncomfortable to have his castle built close to such a powerful spirit, and so decided to move Kanda Shrine to its modern location.
During the Meiji period, the emperor was faced with public pressure to include Kanda Shrine in the Tokyo Ten Shrines (東京十社), but hesitated to do so because of the shrine's association with Masakado, who was seen as an anti-government figure. This was temporarily resolved by removing Taira no Masakado as an enshrined kami. However, Masakado's spirit proved so popular amongst the commoners, that it was symbolically returned to the shrine after WWII.