1000 Paper Cranes & Colorful EmaJun 30th, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: Photo Gallery, Temples & Shrines, Tokyo and Vicinity
Shrines in Japan offer up beautiful vignettes for visitors to enjoy at every turn. The torii (entrance gate) can be impressive, large and wooden like that at Meiji Jingu, multiple smaller ones in a distinctive red, or a single simple torii that humbly announces the presence of the shrine.
The path to the shrine itself is usually a peaceful portal even if it is the midst of a bustling city. As you reach the end of the path you likely will pass by a purification fountain where worshippers stop to cleanse themselves before heading the the main hall of the shrine to pray. (To learn more about the etiquette of visiting a shrine in Japan take a moment to read Purity & Prayer at Japanese Shrines.)
In addition to what one might refer to as a traditional prayer, worshipers often write their prayers on tiny white strips of paper and leave them tied to a sacred tree or to a special structure. The white paper strips present an accumulation of the wishes of many and is a sight I often stop to ponder for a moment.
Worshipers may also purchase ema (wooden prayer plaques) and write their message on the back before leaving it behind.
The scene pictured on the left is not quite typical and one of those vignettes. In addition to the colorful ema of Kameido Tenjin, there are also groupings of 1,000 paper cranes hanging in a silent wish that is traditionally made for peace.
I can spend hours wandering about the nooks and crannies of almost any shrine precincts and am rarely disappointed in the view.
This and other great images of Japan can be found in The Nihon Sun Japan Photo Gallery.
Image Credit: Personal Collection