Month: Last updated Aug 1, 2017

Wishing for Big Breasts

Japan’s Jodo-shu (Pure Land Sect) operates a breast shrine in Aichi Prefecture. It’s formally known as Ryuuon-ji, but most people refer to it as Mama Kannon or Mamachichi Kannon, and was founded way back in 1492. It’s dedicated to Kannon, the Buddha of Mercy, and according to local legend, it was founded by a hunter. He was so skillful that he could hit 100 bullseyes with 100 shots. One day while hunting deer on Komaki-yami, he came across a herd of deer which all lined up in a row for him to shoot. When he made his shot, the deer began to glow and turned into seven gems, and a statue of the Senju-kannon appeared from the center of them. The hunter threw away his bow, broke all his arrows, and bowed down before the statue. Coming down from the mountain, he told the local villagers the story, and together they built a hut to house the statue. The temple was just a regular one until a woman claimed that a miracle happened there in 1665. A woman who had been unable to provide any breast milk took her newborn baby there, and after praying to Kannon, suddenly began to be able to breastfeed. (Photo courtesy of Kuru-raho-n no Heya) Here are some votive plaques from the temple (Translations are in order from left to right): 1. I want...

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Gyotoku Bird Sanctuary

The Gyotoku Bird Sanctuary is a wonderful getaway spot that you can reach using the Tokyo Subway. It’s home to a huge variety of birds, including herons, egrets, and cormorants. The sanctuary used to be part of a huge expanse of tidal flat that contained lotus ponds, reeds, and paddy fields until the 1960s. It was known for the large number and vairety of waterfowl, and when the land was going to be reclaimed and developed, there was a dispute between local nature lovers and the authorities. The land got developed, but the Gyotoku Bird Observatory was set up...

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The Breast Shrine

Photo courtesy of: Japan has both a shrine and temple devoted to breasts, the Karube Shrine in Okayama Prefecture, and Mama Chichi Kannon Temple in Aichi (I’ll post about it next week). The Karube Shrine in Soja City, Okayama Prefecture is dedicated to the Chichigamisama (Goddess of Breasts), a deity believed to help with everything from safe births to the production of breast milk to breast cancer cures. It was built in 1678, and was once famous for a cherry tree known as the “tarachine cherry tree.” Tarachine means mother, but has the chinese character for “breast” in...

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Kawadoko – Riverside Dining to Beat the Heat

Kyoto, surrounded on three sides by mountains, is known for its cold winters and hot summers. In the days before air conditioners, people devoted a lot of time and energy to beating the summer heat, and one of the things they came up with is the elegant custom of kawadoko, riverside dining. If you walk along the Kamo-gawa River in central Kyoto, you will see a lot of restaurants with platforms built out over the side of the river where patrons go to get cool and enjoy food or drinks. Another famous place is Kibune, a tiny village north...

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Expensive Things in Japan

I just finished reading a little book called Anata no Shiranai Nedan Jiten (Dictionary of Costs You Didn’t Know). It’s one of those little 500 yen books people buy to kill time while they’re commuting, and as the title suggests, is about how much things cost. Here are some of the surprising prices (in yen) from the book: To cover every car on the Yamanote Line with ads from the same company: 14,300,000 To run an ad on the giant TV screen at Studio Alta for a week: 600,000 To open your own dental office: 40,000,000 To start up your own mobile ramen-selling truck: 1,500,000 Yearly unclaimed lottery winnings: 24,900,000,000 Amount paid to performers on NHK’s famous Kohaku Uta Gassen New Year’s program: 60,000 To get a big yakuza-style tattoo on your back: 75-150,000 To rent Tokyo Dome for half a day in the afternoon: 350,000 Estimated damage from an eruption of Mt. Fuji: 2,000,000,000,000 To have a chapel wedding at a top-class hotel: 3,700,000 Average amount paid in tax by a salariman over the course of his life: 46,000,000 To get an annual physical examination at a “ningen dokku” (click the link for a funny Danny Choo story about the poo examination) if the company wasn’t paying for it: 30-50,000 To buy a ten-character kaimyo (a Buddhist name given to people to use in the next world): 850,000...

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