Japanese Couple Visits Kyoto’s Love Shrine

October 23, 2012

by Saya Takeuchi and Reiichi Inoue


SAYA: Reiichi, here in Japan we have many shrines and temples which enshrine various kinds of gods. Did you know that?

REIICHI: “Really? I didn’t know, Saya. For example…?”

There are shrines for hair, teeth, even for konjak and other surprising things.

“I see. Is there any shrine relevant to us?”

“You need to go the shrine for hair because you are going bald lately, ha ha ha!

“Shut up, Saya. I’m very sensitive about it.”

“Just kidding, Reiichi. Your hair looks fine.”

“I know. I’m good looking.”

“…”

“Tell me something different.”

“Well…there is a shrine of love called Jishu Shrine in Kyoto.”

“That sounds interesting. We are in Kyoto, so let’s go there for the sake of our love.”

“Right, we will soon be apart for a year because of that overseas exchange program… so we should pray to the gods to keep our relationship going well.”

[Saya and Reiichi are now heading to Jishu Shrine.]

REIICHI: “So…where is it located?”

SAYA: “It’s inside the grounds of Kiyomizu Temple.”

“What? Why is there a shrine in a temple? Aren’t Shinto and Buddhism different?”

“They are, but since the early Meiji era (1860s-70s), it has not been rare to have a temple and shrine together, but many shrines went bankrupt during a severe economic recession, so they were separated from temples. Jishu Shrine still remains because it has been very popular all through the years. But since then many temples have invited shrines back inside.”

“So Shinto and Buddhism are cooperating together in Japan, right?”

Yes, that’s right.”

[They reach Jishu Shrine. ]
SAYA: “Here we are! Jishu Shrine. Inside, there are many hokora (small shrines) that revere many kinds of the god of love.”

REIICHI: “People are walking from one stone to another. What is that all about?”

“They’re called ‘Love Stones.’ If you walk from one to the other while closing your eyes, your wish will be granted. If you can’t, it will take long time for your wish to come true. The distance between the stones is about ten meters.”

“It’s tough to do that, and sort of risky.”

Yes. But people sometimes have to take a risk for their dream.”

“That’s true. What about this one?”

“This is called okage myojin. This small shrine reveres the god who will answer any sort of prayer, whatever it is. Even if it is an evil wish. For example, I want my rival to be unlucky.”

“I’m scared of you…”

“I’m just giving you an example.”

“Why is there a tree behind the shrine?”

“In the past, when Japanese women wanted to curse the enemies of love, they visited here and nailed straw dolls onto this tree again and again… It was popular among Japanese women…”

“Now I’m scared of women…”

“Everyone wants to be loved by their lover. That is why they nailed those dolls.”

“There is a fortune slip. Let’s draw it…”

“Okay!”

“What did you get?

“I got very good luck! How about you?”

“I got good luck.”

“Look, this says I should go out with a sober person. That must be you, Reiichi! Ha ha!”

“This fortune slip is right. We are very lucky that we both got a good one.”

“But what could we have done if we’d gotten very bad fortunes?”

“We could just tie it up to the tree, and the god would make your luck better.”

“I see, so we don’t have to be afraid of getting a bad one.”

“Right. Saya, we can buy lucky charms here. Let’s get some.”

“Okay. How does this work?”

“There are many kinds of lucky charms. For example, matchmaking. It is said that if you always bring this with you, you will meet a dream partner.”

“How about in our case? We already have our dream partner.”

“Well, Saya, we can get a pair of lucky charms. If we share this with each other and always bring it with us, it will make our bond of love stronger.”

“That’s so romantic. I want one! It’s only 500 yen (about USD$6 to 7) for each. That’s a good price.”

“It was so much fun, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, it was.”

“Now, our relationship will be all right forever because we prayed to the gods. The gods of love will give us blessings.”

“I will always bring this lucky charm with me, even though we will live in different places.”

“Me, too, Honey.”

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