So this Sunday I decided to take a quick trip to Shiroyama Hachimangu to take some pictures (with my xD card in the camera this time) and try to see if I could talk to anyone. Unfortunately, it started raining shortly after I left my dorm, and I didn't have an umbrella with me, because mine has gone missing.* It wasn't raining that hard, though, and I figured that it would clear up eventually, so I took the subway over to the shrine.
Here's the entrance to the shrine. For all of you who can't read Japanese, the large banner hanging from the torii is advertising shichigosan, which started today.
Then you have to climb about a million steps. The shrine really lives up to its name (城山, mountain castle).
And then you cross this bridge into the actual shrine.
Because sometimes your stone lanterns have light bulbs in them.
I'm really not sure what this sign is supposed to be indicating. Don't give rice to cats? Cats can't eat with chopsticks? Don't feed the cats? Don't eat food in front of cats?
Even more confusing is the fact that I didn't see any cats around the shrine, which makes me believe that the cat on the sign is actually a GHOST CAT. In which case the sign is clearly indicating "if you are going to sacrifice food to the ghost cat, please do it properly by sticking the chopsticks into the TOP of the rice, not the SIDE."
...and the obligatory Inari shrine.
Here's a close up of the actual Inari shrine.
There are two sets of torii leading to the shrine, and despite the fact that the writing on the back indicates that they were built in the same year, this set looks pretty new and the other set looks like it's falling apart.
The ema-hanging-place in the main courtyard. Also, people tie up their fortunes here as well. You might not be able to see from the picture, but there are different kinds of fortunes offered for boys (black character on blue and gold background) and girls (red character on pink and gold background). That's probably because the shrine is associated with finding love.
Speaking of which, this is the shrine's 連理木, which is pronounced "renriboku" or "enmusubiki" depending on which signs you believe.
The tree is supposed to grant good luck in love because it was split in half by a lightning strike and then grew back together.
A looooooooooooooooooot of people leave their ema by the tree.
Also, while I was visiting, a huge group of relatively young people (I would guess that all of them were older than me, but most were in their mid-twenties) showed up. They were completing the 恋の三社めぐり or "three shrine pilgrimage for love" (at least, that's the best English approximation I can make). The idea is that there are three shrines which you can visit, and each shrine has a "good luck in love power spot," so if you visit all three, you'll definitely find a good partner. If you read Japanese, the pilgrimage has a website.
In any case, it was pretty insanely crowded, so there was no way I was going to be able to talk to anyone, plus it started raining harder and was getting pretty cold, so I just gave up and headed back to my dorm.
Today I headed over to Gosha Shrine for their 月次祭 (tsukinamisai; monthly festival).** It was a very, very short ceremony (10-15 minutes) with only six participants other than me, but I got to meet some of the 総代 (soudai; representatives of the ujiko), who said that they're willing to be interviewed! Hurrah!
I haven't been doing too much exciting stuff other than that. I read a couple of books that had to go back to the library today (Nanzan only lends out books for 2 weeks at a time, which I think is kind of silly): Kurozumikyo and the New Religions of Japan by Helen Hardacre and Basic Terms of Shinto by Shinto Committee for the IXth International Congree for the History of Religion. The titles are pretty self-explanatory, in this case. Kurozumikyo and the New Religions of Japan is a good case study (of Kurozumikyo, what a surprise), and was a good introduction to the new religions for me (since I haven't read a whole lot about them). Plus it was not only well written, but also very accessible--no Venn diagrams within Venn diagrams or bizarre quotations from completely irrelevant sources here.*** Basic Terms of Shinto is a good reference book for Shinto-related vocabulary...but since I can only take it out for two weeks at a time, I had to read all of it at once, which kind of defeated the purpose. The other problem is that it's very outdated (from 1958) and full of typos. And while it's easy to figure out what some of the typos (like "Jpapanese") are supposed to be, there are other places where there are words missing from the middle of sentences and I couldn't tell what the heck the author was trying to say. There's a revised edition of the book (from 1985, I believe), and the Nanzan Institute for Religious Studies has it in their library...but none of the books from the library can leave the building. Bah.
In other news, I somehow managed to get a giant blister on the back of my right foot? Ow.
And here, have some pictures of the sunset out my window this evening.
'kay, gonna go do stuff now.
...P.S. I haven't a clue why blogger is highlighting all the text. SIGH. BLOGGER.
*It disappeared about two weeks ago, which means that:
1. It was stolen.
2. Someone borrowed it...without telling me...and hasn't given it back for some reason.
3. It has suddenly and spontaneously turned invisible.
I am hoping it's the third one, because an invisible umbrella would be epic...although very difficult to find.
**Well, actually, first I found out that the alarm on my alarm clock is broken. Can't say I didn't see it coming; my alarm has been getting progressively weirder, and when I went to check the batteries today I discovered that they were...covered in...white...stuff. I don't even know.
***If you are trying to explain Shinto principles by quoting the Bible, you are probably doing it wrong.