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

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bridge

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Takayama Inari Shrine 高山稲荷神社

Takayama Inari 1

A trek to the Takayama Inari Shrine in Tsugaru City, Aomori Prefecture reveals hundreds upon hundreds of stone, ceramic, and wooden statues of foxes. Once worshiped in homes and businesses for success and prosperity, they are now amassed in silence, sentinels to the passing of time.

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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

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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.

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Miho Shrine 5

 

Lost at sea 失せ物

Anchors, knives, and other tools, having fallen into the depths of the ocean water, present a problem for fisherman. It breaks the taboo against dropping metal objects into the sea, something that is likely to enrage Ryujinsama, the serpent like water deity. Laying on the bottom, reflecting light, these lost articles known as usemono 失せ物 could scare of the fisherman’s catch. So what to do? Renderings of the lost articles are drawn and offered at the local shrine in order to appease the protectorate deities of the sea.

Usemono shrine

Shrine building.

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Hand drawn prayer offerings for a lost knife and hook are posted on the walls. 

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Commonly lost objects are anchors. We also see that more than one object may be lost.  Note that the name of the ship is always written, but the dedicator’s name or the date are optional.

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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Protecting the protector お地蔵を守る北陸

Jizo shrine (2)

As seen from this example from Toyama, a stone roadside shrine has been completely covered with a straw matting and a plastic blue sheet to protect it from snow during the winter months.

Whereas in many parts of Japan the roadside statues of the Buddhist saint named “Jizo” is left open to the elements, the people of the Hokuriku region (Fukui, Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures) express their strong devotional ties to Buddhism by wrapping up the Jizo statues and shrines.

Jizo shrine

On the drive leading up to a farmhouse sits an old, moss covered stone shrine enshrining a stone statue of Jizo. The usually exposed front is covered with straw matting to protect the inside statue from the winter snow. This will be removed with the change of the seasons.

Jizo shrine (closeup)

A closeup of the above photo. Even care is taken to ensure that Jizo is able to see out of the shrine by cutting a small window in the protective covering. Perhaps this is evidence of the local people’s strong affection for Jizo.

 

Article: Folk performance 論文:伝統芸能

Gongensama

An article (in Japanese) examining the traditional folk performances has been earlier published in the journal of the Folklore Society of Aomori Prefectures. (PDF)

「中野神楽におけるイエの祭り―三戸郡南郷村中野地区の事例から―」という論文を青森県民俗の会の 『青森県の民俗』 第四号に2004年に載せられました。ここで、改めて紹介します。(PDF)

論文の抜粋

一、はじめに

イエを舞台に行われてきた信仰に基づく行事や祭りは、戦後民法によるイエ制度崩壊の影響を受け、近年の農村においても希薄になった感がある。そのようにして古い習慣がすたれつつある現代ではあるが、青森県三戸郡南郷村において、今もなお年に一回開催される春祈祷は、人々の紐帯の機会となっている。

本稿では、南郷村で現在も活発に活躍している「中野神楽」を事例に取り上げ、小正月の春祈祷で実施されている、カドウチとオミキアゲに注目することにしたい。この行事に注目することで、現代日本におけるイエと信仰の関係を明らかにできればと考える。

二、中野神楽

南郷村においては複数の神楽保存会が活動しているが、中野地区では、中野神楽が同地区出身の七人の男性により伝承されている。この山伏系統の神楽で中心となる演目は、「権現舞」である。この舞で焦点となる「権現様」(獅子頭のこと)は、少なくとも二百七十四年前からこの地で神様として祀られてきたと考えられている。「奉再光中野村中常院享保十五年十月六日」という獅子頭にある銘が、権現様の古さを示しているというのである。中野神楽で祀る権現様は「中野権現様」と通称され、中野金毘羅大権現とも呼ばれている・・・

「中野神楽におけるイエの祭り―三戸郡南郷村中野地区の事例から―」 『青森県の民俗』第四号, 2004年5月22日, 頁95~101.

Kagura

Article: Shrine system 論文:四十八社

An article (in Japanese) examining the one villages shrine system was previously published in Tohoku University’s journal The Bulletin of the Tohoku Culture Research Room.

「島守四十八社にみる地域と信仰―三戸南郷村島守地区の事例から―」という論文を 『東北文化研究室紀要』に載せられました。ここで、改めて紹介します。PDF

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Article: A shaman’s protectorate deities 論文: 日本シャマニズム

An article (in Japanese) examining the acquisition of protective deities by a woman who was to become has been earlier published in the journal of the Folklore Society of Tohoku .

「津軽のカミサマの成巫過程―守り神を手がかりに―」という論文を東北民俗の会の 『東北民俗』第36輯 に載せられました。ここで、改めて紹介します。

論文の抜粋

一、はじめに

日本列島の最北端、津軽地方にはカミサマと呼ばれる民間宗教者が多数活躍し、この地方の信仰風景において無視できない存在となっている。カミサマは「霊感」と呼ばれる特殊能力をもつ点から、地域社会において祈祷師あるいは霊媒者といった社会的役割を果たしている。

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Article about Anime Pilgrimages アニメ・ゲーム聖地巡礼についての論文

An article (in Japanese) titled “Examining the Modern Pilgrimage: Anime and Games Give Birth to Sacred Places” has been earlier published in the Folklore Society of Japan’s journal “Nihon Minzokugaku (Japanese Folklore)” Vol. 51.

「現代巡礼考―アニメ・ゲームから生まれた聖地―」 という論文を日本民俗学会の『日本民俗学』  第 283号に載せることが出来ました。ここで、改めて紹介します。

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New Article Published 新しい論文

A new article (in Japanese) titled “Where Religion and Politics Converge: The Case of the ‘Election Shaman'” has just been published in the Folklore Society of Tohoku’s journal “Tohoku Folklore” Vol. 51.

「選挙と信仰の接点―『選挙カミサマ』と呼ばれる民間巫者を事例に―」という論文を東北民俗の会の『東北民俗』 第51輯に載せることが出来ました。

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