Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Side Note On Yaegaki Shrine (Rated R)

The first time I ever visited Yaegaki Shrine was back in October of 1998, right after I'd come to Shimane University as an exchange student. My friends Kazu and Satoshi told me that they wanted to take me to "the greatest shrine in Japan".

Never mind that it was 8 at night and dark outside.

"Okay guys, show me this shrine."

We drove out to the south side of town to Yaegaki Shrine. At first glance, it looked like any other shrine you can see anywhere in Japan.


Like this.

"Umm, okay. It's dark and there doesn't seem to be anything too special about this place..."

"Follow me."

We walk around the left side of the shrine to another small shrine set up there.

"See?"

I don't see. Looks just like any other...

Hold.

The.

Phone.


Oh my.


Oh my.


My oh my.

It's a fertility shrine.

Aahhh...

I spent the next ten minutes laughing my ass off.

Because, ya know, there's a bunch of..."Richards"...just...hanging out. Literally.

Places like this can be found all over Japan, most notably Tagata Shrine in Aichi Prefecture. I say "most notably" because it was the most obvious fertility shrine I've ever seen. (Click here to see some pictures from the fertility festival.) I think some places try to have a little fun with the image they present, while some places are a little more serious. I think Yaegaki Shrine tries to be a bit more on the serious side of things. But either way, people go to these shrines to pray for help in getting pregnant or for help in farming fertile crops.

Anyway, while it may not be "the greatest" shrine in Japan, Yaegaki Shrine is a pretty fun place to visit.

I do miss the shop that used to be across the street from the shrines that sold little candy souvenirs that reflected the "fertility" nature of the shrine.

Candy for both "him" and "her", if you know what I mean.

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