Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hokkaido Jingu Shrine

On the last day of my Hokkaido tour with my wife on 28 Sep 09, our group visited the
Hokkaido Jingu Shrine. The shrine is a Shinto Shrine. Shinto is a native religion of the Japanese which worships the god in the universe as symbolized by the sun. Shinto is the indigenous religion of Japan before Buddhism and other religions set foot in Japan.

That is why the Sun comes to symbolizes Japan. Our group learnt from the tour guide that Japan has not been colonized before by other countries and Japanese believe that this is due to the blessing of the Sun god. The predatory Mongolians had tried to attack Japan but were not able to do so as the seas off Japan formed a natural barrier against foreign intrusion and we were told that once Mongolians tried to conquer Japan, their boats were thrown off by typhoons, which Japanese believe were protection ‘acts of (their) god’.

It was drizzling when we set foot on the shrine. There were a ceremony going on in the shrine replete with prayers chanting in Japanese which we could not interpret. There were many talismans for different purposes on sales there for tourists to purchase.

I learnt from the tour guide that some of the Japanese worship a religion which believes that there is a spiritual element to every object such that some Japanese even burnt bras as a form of worship. Interesting right, well, I learnt from the tour guide many other interesting and real Japanese stories one of which was even bizarre.

This bizarre story evolved around a family who has not opened their rice cooker pot for 3 solid years and they went around trying to find out what is the best safe solution to open the pot. They went to the United States and get the opinion of a Ivy League Professor who could not comment much.

They eventually flow the pot by helicopter into a public square in Japan to eventually try to open the pot by hand, this became a public event, which garnered much media attention and thousands to flock to the square to witness what would become of the inside of the pot, my tour guide was one of these curious audience. When the pot was opened, it was nothing but mould!

This incident seemed exaggerated but it was a true incident in the words of the tour guide and this incident underscored the extraordinary innovation, creativity and curiosity of life of the Japanese.

Stay tuned as I bring you more exciting stories from my Hokkadio tour!