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.
Although it is now an uncommon form of entertainment, the kami shibai 紙芝居, or paper theater, was a popular and widely accessible form of street-side entertainment. Continue reading
The highly successful anime “Your Name” (Highest worldwide grossing anime film) has given birth to a new anime pilgrimage. Fans astutely discerned the real-world places that were drawn into this anime production. They then quickly embarked on a journey to some of the sites. Thus inaugurating what fans term as a seichi “holy/sacred site”. One such place that gained the attention of fans is Suga Shrine (須賀神社) in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward.
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。
The truck is king of the road in Japan. And there is a special breed of truck that is both distinctively fearsome, yet elegant: kind of like Las Vegas on wheels. These trucks are called decotora, which is a melded abbreviation of the words “decorated” and “truck”. Decotora can be seen all throughout Japan though it is said that the original decotora was driven by a trucker from Aomori prefecture. Continue reading
Hokumeiryo 北溟寮 is a male dormitory located in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. Such dormitories and their traditions are fast disappearing in Japan. I had the pleasure to live next door to Hokumeiryo dormitory for several years. And during that time I observed some of the annual rituals that took place. In the evening hours after the day’s classes had finished things often became…well some might say “boisterous” or “raucous,” but I would term it as “festive.” I particularly appreciate their having allowed my son and I to join the ranks of their parade as it snaked through the narrow, winding streets of our neighborhood one night.
I also enjoyed the larger than life bottle of sake that the students handcrafted. It denotes a central element in the dormitory life. And the array of television antennas on the roof, which students most likely set themselves, caught my eye as well. Resourcefulness.
Anime Cars, known as itasha 痛車 (compound of the word itai 痛い meaning “pain” coupled with the sha 車 meaning, in this case, “auto”). Itasha are automobiles decorated with manga and anime logos, characters, and so forth. The meaning of the name itasha then is in effect expressing the idea that the cars being so unabashedly adorned actually hurt the sensibilities (of even the otaku, fan). Continue reading