Below our apartment building, nestled between skyscrapers in the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, is the Hie Shinto Shrine. The original shrine was several centuries old, but it was bombed in WWII. This is the remodel. The
Side note: the New Year is a huge deal in Japan. They celebrate it for almost 2 weeks. Pam jokingly says, "Get over it already. Commit to 2011 and let's move on".
See - that's the entrance. It's literally hanging out between skyscrapers.
Pam and I decided it was time to awaken our Japense ancestors and pray to them for a fabulous 2011 and general good health and luck for all friends and loved ones (not too much to ask from the Japanese ancestors we didn't know we had).
I believe this says the name of the shrine...
Back steps to the center o' the shrine. Gorgeous huh?
Here's the center where people come to pray. I told ya... lotta' people trying to get in their prayers for the New Year, and this is on a slow day. We went before the lunchtime rush.
Pam doing the prayer ritual (I did it too) where you walk up to the front, throw a money offering, ring the big bell overhead, clap twice, say your prayer, clap again, then back away. Or is it say your prayer then clap twice?
Side Note: I have to add the disclaimer that Pam and I did not enter this experience in a mocking way. We know how much this means to the locals and tried to observe in the same pious manner. I hope I didnt offend anyone there!
These are fortune papers received by visitors aka. sacred lottery. If you get a bad fortune, you tie it to one of these trees, acknowledging that you should try to avoid that fate and leave it behind. If you get a good fortune, you can take it with you.
At Shinto shrines you can purchase a wooden prayer plaque called an 'ema'. You can write your hopes and wishes for the new year. It's the Year of the Rabbit, by the way.
Then you hang up the plaque with the others.
Pam did it too.
I like to hug big trees. I did not know this at the time, but this tree is the original 'big tree' on which the shrine was founded. The rope designates that. I had no idea... woopsies.
So that was my first Shinto shrine experience. Next stop, a Buddhist shrine. WOOP WOOP!