神道

Shinto prayers at nearby empty lot. Will a house replace this summer-time bat field?

shinto_prayers_empty_lot_na
新しい家を建てる前に神道の儀式をするのは、日本の習慣です。夏、この空き地には、コウモリがよく来ました

I did a double take on my bike as I passed this portable Shinto ceremony on a nearby empty lot. Ostensibly, they are praying to the local gods in advance of constructing a residence. But I think this is not the first year they’ve done the ceremony here.

This summer the weeds were rampant, and the empty space became a bat colony. Somehow the Mercedes in the foreground of a Japanese religious ritual no longer surprises me, even in Nakano.

Sacred trees in courtyard of Meiji Jingu

この二つの大きい木を繋ぐ神道の飾りはとても素敵だと思います。明治神宮で。

I love this hemp rope and lightening-bolt like paper decoration that makes visible the sacredness of the mature trees in the center of Meiji Jingu shrine. Approaching the shrine through a magnificent planned forest, visitors sense that this place has been set apart from a city that is in state of constant change.

Seeking prosperity with rakes, booze, hot glue, tattooed Kewpie

酉の市が大好きです。日本の神道では、神秘的なものと幸運を探しながら、熊手やお酒や入れ墨のキューピーからご利益を得られます。浅草はもっと伝統的ですが、花園神社は私の一番のパワースポットです。歌舞伎町と二丁目とデパート本店の間だから、とてもかっこい人が集まります。三十万円の熊手を見ました。去年私は千円のを買って、今年は二千円のにレベルアップしました。来年はすばらしい年になります。

I’ve written before how Tori no Ichi is one of my favorite festivals, with its focus on seeking spiritual intervention for a prosperous year. Perhaps Asakusa is a more traditional place, but I particularly love attending the festival at Hanozono shrine, mid-way between Kabukicho, Ni-chome, and the department stores. The crowd is Tokyo’s most beautiful people: the world of late night drinkers, huge hair for men and women, animal prints, and shiny fabrics.

If it weren’t for the food stalls, it would be easy to miss the entrance on Yasukuni Dori, with the fiver rows of lanterns barely competing with the neon, fluorescent signage, and hundreds of taxis.

The focal point of the festival are the “kumade,” which are good luck rakes made of bamboo, rice, (often artificial) pine, and paper and plastic good luck charms hot glued. There are dozens of stalls, and the most expensive ones need to be carried out by two men. The one below cost 300,000 yen (almost US $4,000).

In addition to kumade sellers, there are many regular festival food stalls, and also make-shift drinking establishments with tables and chairs. I like how the one below wraps around a mature tree.

The convergence of spirituality, drinking and materialism is dizzying. The proprietress of this food and drink stall is wearing a headband full of cash.

Almost anything can represent good fortune. I love how this Kewpie doll, the mascot of Japan’s #1 mayonnaise, also has a headband of cash and a full body tattoo. There seems to be an even higher than usual correlation between this festival and the yakuza who are its sellers and celebrants.

Even the children’s cartoon Anpan man (his head is a round anko bread that can be eaten when necessary) can be incorporated into the rake.