Still jet lagged; when we got home yesterday at 2PM or so, Toby managed to stay awake until 10PMish, while I crashed at 4, got up to eat dinner, crashed again, then got up to watch Toby play Assassin’s Creed for a while, then crashed when Toby went to bed. Toby got up about 6AM, while I got up at 8, then we both fell asleep at 1PM and got up at 6ish, and are now still awake at 11PM. So: yeah.
Anyway, a little about the final shrine of our journey. I found out about the Oji Inari shrine when Googling about for things to do. Inari is the god of rice, agriculture, sake, business, and a few other things in Shinto, the Japanese traditional religion, and foxes are the messengers of Inari, so while they’re viewed with suspicion as tricksters in many other aspects of Japanese folklore, they are revered at, and act as guardians for, Inari shrines.
The Oji Inari shrine seems to be sort of an adjunct to the main Oji shrine nearby. It’s devoted to Inari (well, duh) and thus has foxes all over it. I’ll save a bit more description of the shrine proper for when I’ve had time to work on the photos Toby and I took of it, but I thought I’d post the two bubbles I took.
The main area of the shrine has some buildings that date back 150 years or so, but to get to the more sacred areas, you go through a small gate at the back. The shrine is built against a tall hill, and you step up a bit to the back area, see three small buildings that contain various objects of veneration, and then see a tall staircase that leads up to another small shrine building. That bulding contains a stone lantern-looking thing that had, at the moment, a small vase that containes a branch with leaves of some sort on it, and also a small tunnel into the hillside that had two tiny fox statues and another vase with a leafy branch in it.
The fox shrine that Rachel Manija Brown and I found in Arashiyama, Kyoto in 2007 (previously) featured a waist-height tunnel going back into a hillside, so I suppose that is a feature of fox shrines?
Anyway, I took two bubbles of this. This first one is up on the very top, in the buliding with the stone lantern-like structure and the small tunnel. You can’t really see into the tunnel (which takes a sharp turn to the left a couple of feet in, by the way), but it’s that dark area guarded by the fox statuettes.
I also had it record sound, so if you click on the sound icon in the upper right, you get more of a feel for being there.
This second one is at the foot of the stairs leading up to the first area. You can see the small torii gate pathway, the back of one of the buildings, and two others. The structure with the banners and the fox statues in cages contains a large stone on top of a couple of pillows. It’s supposed to be a wishing stone: you make a wih then try to lift the stone, and if you can, you get your wish. We learned about this after leaving the shrine, so didn’t get a chance to try. 🙂 (Although as Toby says: foxes are supposed to be tricksters. You probably don’t want one granting your wish!). The sound is also on this bubble.
The cages on the fox statues are, according to Dr Google, supposed to keep them from wandering off their pedestals. 🙂 I suspect its more a don’t-touch-these thing, given that their ears are mosly broken off.