Shiogama Shrine (鹽竈神社, Shiogama Jinja) is a Shinto shrine located in the center of Shiogama city. The large complex is said to be over 1,200 years old, but its origins is still unclear. Shiogama Shrine is the most prominent Shinto shrine in the Tohoku region and acts as the protector of fishermen, safe childbirth, martial artist, and longevity. It is said that the deities Takemikazuchi no Kami and Futsunushi no Kami were sent by the Sun Goddess Amaterasu Omikami to develop the Tohoku Region while being guided by Shiotsuchi Oji no Kami who later taught the locals how to obtain salt from sea water. These three deities are currently enshrined in different complexes in Shiogama Shrine. Before entering the shrine there are 200 steps to climb until you see the vermillion gate entrance. In July there are a couple of festivals to look for happening at Shiogama Shrine. First is the Yabusame Festival, which is a horseback archery tournament and the second is the salt making event where ancient techniques are used to extract the ingredient from sea water. In the cherry blossom season there are over 300 cherry trees of different varieties within the shrine. This includes the Shiogama Cherry, which is a late blooming type. Thus the season of cherry blossoms lasts from mid-April to early May at the Shiogama Shrine.