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
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.
Re-thatching a roof: Community work 屋根葺き：共同作業
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.
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.
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.
An older form of entertainment that is now unseen in Japan, was the lifting of heavy stones, often during festival times. Put simply, a test of strength. The rocks, which come in various sizes, are generally known as chikara ishi 力石, literally “strength stones.”
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
Many municipalities throughout Japan showcase their local culture on the manhole covers set down on city streets. The two examples below are to be found in Ueda City in Nagano prefecture. Continue reading