Visiting Oarai Isosaki Shrine - see the sea through the "gate of the gods"
Being the place of worship for the two gods who have contributed to constructing the Japanese economy, Oarai Isosaki Shrine in Ibaraki is the place where Japanese people often come to pray for peace and for their business to go well.
The shrine commemorating the founding gods of Japan
Constructed in 856, Oarai Isosaki Shrine is the place of worship for Okuninushi and Sukunahikona.
Okuninushi is the God of nation-building and agriculture-founding in Japan. Together with Sukunahikona, he had found medicines for treating illnesses, established the laws that contribute to economic enhancement and stabilized people's lives.
One special thing about Oarai Isosaki Shrine is the guardian frog statues instead of Komainu lion statuettes in front of the shrine.
Many people believe that this is a wordplay of kaeru (the Japanese word for "frog") and its homophone which means "to return home".
See the sea through the "gate of the gods"
The most well-known thing in Oarai lsosaki Shrine is the torii gate, Kamiiso-no-torii, built in the middle of the sea.
Many visitors come here to pray and see the breathtaking view of the Shinto gate at sunrise.
Upon coming to the shrine, when standing in front of the first torii gate, you should stop and bow. When leaving, you should also bow to this gate. This action illustrates your respect towards the gods.
Wishing plaques decorated with impressive manga paintings
To express sincere wishes and for those wishes to quickly come true, some visitors and Japanese people have written their wishes on small wooden plaques. What impresses me is that many plaques are decorated with adorable pictures, and some plaques even have white bunnies on them.
It is true that the Japanese manga culture and kawaii culture have been deeply imprinted on people and even expressed in the way they connect with the gods.
My friends who are studying in Japan have taught me some following rules which I will share with you:
- State your name clearly when praying. If there is a bell nearby, ring it. This is the way for you to inform the gods that you are visiting the shrine.
- Remember to pray for happiness for people around you so that the gods can feel your kindness.
- If you write your wish on a wooden plaque and bring it home, remember to take it to the shrine and burn it there the following year.
- If you promise the gods to do something, you have to do it. Do not break it since it will chase your luck away.
There is nearly no jostles in Japanese temples or shrines. Here, people stand in line and do not throw and shove money everywhere like in some temples in Vietnam. If you have the chance to come to Japan, you should try visiting a temple to have a better understanding of the religious culture in Japan.
** Suggested transportation to Oarai Isosaki Shrine: Take the JR Joban Line from Ueno Station to Mito Station. Then, take the Oarai-Kashima Line to Oarai Station.
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