Quelling the flames

The Mizu-kake Fudo-son 水掛不動尊 at the Hozenji Temple 法善寺 in Osaka, where petitioners throw water on the moss covered stone statue of the Buddhist fire deity, Fudō Myō-ō (不動明王).

shrine precinct

wooden pillar

offertory box

water pump

pumping water

throwing water

fudo myoo statue

 

paper lanterns

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Translation 翻訳: Prof. Mutsuhiko Matsuda’s “Occupational and Environmental Folklore”

The word seigyō 生業 translates as occupation, work, or living in English. I had the privilege of translating Prof. Mutsuhiko Matsuda’s paper based on his research into occupational folklore. The translated paper titled “Occupational and Environmental Folklore” has been published in the Japanese Review of Cultural Anthropology (Volume 19, Issue 2, 2018,  pp. 35-62).  Released September 4, 2019, it is now available online. PDF link

fishmonger

Fishmonger selling in Himi, Toyama Prefecture. (Photo unrelated to article)

cattle breeder

Cattle breeders in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture. (Photo unrelated to article)

Yamanokami Shrine 山神社

yamanokami shrine

The mountain goddess enshrined at Yamanokami Shrine in Miyagi Prefecture’s Misato Town is known far and wide for her efficacy in relation to childbirth. Women have long come to the shrine to borrow a tiny pillow which they take home to ensure an easy and uneventful, that is safe, delivery of their baby. They return the pillow after their child has been born. Many believe that the color of the pillow (red, white, and blue) correlates to the sex of the child, but the priest explained that from the perspective of the shrine the color has no such meaning. The display of phallic offerings in the anterior of the main building attests to the shrine’s strong connection to fertility. Alongside those is another point of interest, a stuffed bear, which is a curious but amusing artifact. During the summer, many visitors come to take a stroll through the multicolored hydrangea in the garden.

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Tiny pillows are dedicated on top of the offertory box.

shrine bldg

ajisai

ajisai 2

bridge

New Article: Votive Prayer Tablets 小絵馬

I have written an article offering a detailed analysis of one shrine’s koema 小絵馬,  small wooden prayer tablets. The article additionally provides a history of the research on koema that have focused not on illustrated prayers (as was traditional), but rather on written prayers, which is the form that predominates today. The article can be found in the Journal of Human Informatics which is published annually by The Institute for Research in Human Informatics at Tohoku Gakuin University. PDF link

Article: “A Comprehensive Survey of Small Votive Prayer Tablets” Journal of Human Informatics (人間情報学研究), Vol. 24, 2019, 15-34.

Ema 0001

 

Miho Shrine in Shimane 美保神社

Definitely worth visiting, Miho Shrine located in Shimane Prefecture is the main shrine for Ebisu, one of the Seven Gods of  Fortune. Ebisu, who is often pictured with a fishing rod in hand, brings luck to fishermen. The connection is strongly felt at Miho Shrine. The shrine was historically a stopping point for boats passing out to sea.

Miho Shrine 2

Miho Shrine 3

Miho Shrine 8

Votive prayer tablets. Many with wishes for a good catch or success in business.

Miho Shrine 4

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Ritual blessing.

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An offering of a three dimensional replication of a ship for an abundant catch.

Miho Shrine 6

Miho Shrine 5

 

Hello Kitty Religious Goods ハローキティと宗教

Department store display for Sanrio’s Hello Kitty goods. Shinto-like elements: 1. Back display in the shape of votive prayer tablet (絵馬 ema) with a Shinto shrine bell to ring when making a prayer  2. Hello Kitty doll costumed as a shrine maiden (巫女 miko)  3. Small case with image of Hello Kitty as shrine maiden performing a purification ritual  4. Pen case for success in studying and passing exams  5. Votive prayer tablet for writing a wish

Hello Kitty Display

Hand and foot shrine 手足の神社

At the Mikata Ishi Kannon Shrine in Fukui prefecture, people offer prayers to cure various ailments connected to hands/arms and feet/legs. They write their names and prayers on minature wooden votives in the shape of an arm or leg. In the past they would have offered their own hand carved votive. But now the votives are supplied by the shrine. Crutches on display attest to the healing power of the enshrined deity. Some visitors even dedicated their prosthetic limbs.

Ishi Kannon Shrine

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