Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Best Fortune 10 Yen Can Buy

On January 4, Etsuko and I went to the closest shrine we could find to my apartment. It just so happens that I live about 10 minutes away from a relatively ‘famous’ shrine called Kanda Myojin. This is a rebuild of a very old shrine. The original one was destroyed by fire following the great Kanto (Tokyo Region) Earthquake in 1923.

My first mission upon arriving at the shrine was to exorcise the ‘Ramen’ demons from the night before. Just managing to make the squat toilet before I had an out-of-body experience. I still don’t appreciate the design of the squat toilet, I am amazed that they are so popular in this part of the world.

After being able to walk without appearing that I was riding an imaginary horse we made our way to the main forecourt of the shrine. I should have realized something was afoot when we noticed that a small army of black suited businessmen were following us to the shrine. It turned out that January 4 is the traditional first day of business in the New Year and it is traditional for all good company men (mostly men) to go to the shrine and inter alia pray for great economics success for their company in the coming year. I didn’t see many other NOVA employees.

The media was even there recording this strange mix of capitalism and religion. Some people were queuing to get into the shrine proper to get the really good prayers in. Etsuko and I were content to cast our money into the gargantuan collection plate in the outer part of the shrine. I have two causes for concern in casting money into this collection plate while praying. Firstly I only threw 10 yen (about 15 cents) into the collection plate. Does this mean that I will only get the budget version of what I prayed for? Secondly the money I cast was borrowed from Etsuko does this mean that if my prayers are answered she has a first mortgage on them?

In the pics below you can see the good luck trinkets for sale. Interestingly all the good luck charms from the previous year are all collected and burned, it is supposedly bad luck to hang on to them (especially bad luck for the people who make and sell them!). Also in the pics if you look carefully you will see me – hands clenched feeling guilty about sconing a person in the head with a 10 yen piece.


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