asakusa jinja

3

This straw circle is called a chinowa kuguri (茅の輪くぐり). It’s part of a purification ritual that you see at most major shrines during the New Year’s period. Stand in front of the circle, walk through it towards your left, return to the front, walk through it again towards your right. The white papers tied to the straw are called shide (紙垂), and are meant to prevent impurities from entering the sacred space. I took these photos at Ootori Jinja (鷲神社) in Asakusa.

flickr

Sensoji_浅草寺_2 by hans-johnson
Via Flickr:
Senso-ji Asakusa, Taito City, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan —- 浅草寺 日本国 東京都 台東区 浅草

5

Imado Jinja (今戸神社) in Asakusa is famous as an enmusubi ( 縁結び or えんむすび) shrine. A rough English translation would be “love knot” or “partner for life”. If you want that fateful encounter that will change your life, visit Imado Jinja. If you’ve already found your beloved, you can visit the shrine together to pray for continuing happiness.

The shrine is also alleged to be the birthplace of Japan’s beloved lucky cat, the manekineko. That, at least, is what locals believe. Here’s the legend: once upon a time, a long time ago, an old woman lived in Imado. She was so poor that she was forced to sell her beloved cat. One night the animal appeared to her in a dream, and told her to make and sell its image in clay. She listened to its advice, sold thousands of cat statues and became very wealthy.