Showing posts with label phallus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label phallus. Show all posts

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Disappeared Japan 5 Ureshino Museum of Hidden Treasures part 1


Just after crossing from Takeo into Ureshino I reached the place I had made a 15 kilometers detour to see, the Ureshino Hihokan.

With a large, golden statue of Kannon, the "goddess of mercy", flanked by two Nio guardians, one might think it was a Buddhist temple..... the modern concrete structure certainly had elements of traditional architecture,....

But sitting to one side of the entrance was a 4 metre long wooden phallus that indicated the true content of the building.

A Hihokan is a "museum of hidden treasures", and is a euphemism for a kind of museum devoted to sex... Hihokan were mostly built in the 1980's, and are mostly associated with hot spring resorts which enjoyed a boom at that time. However, hihokan are disappearing as quickly as they appeared, and this one was due to close down a month after I visited.

Actually, a large part of the exhibits were religious in nature. Fertility shrines can still be found in Japan featuring phalli, although the number is much reduced from historical times and the introduction of "Victorian" prudishness.

There were many replicas of such shrines. I myself seek out these vestiges of traditional culture and am still finding them hidden away on my explorations around the backcountry of Japan. There are a couple of big ones that are very famous, but they are not really typical. The typical fertility shrine is quite small but well-visited. A few weeks earlier on this pilgrimage, I visited Shibatatehime Shrine in Kumamoto.

Praying for a baby is the most common point of many of these "fertility" shrines, but some exist for other reasons. Up near Matsue is one where the big wooden phallus was prayed to for the relief of sexually transmitted diseases. I recently revisited another in Fukuoka, a very popular shrine, that is famous for answering prayers for sexual "vigor". A kind of spiritual viagra if you will.

There were a few examples of Shunga on display. Shunga was erotic and pornographic woodblock prints that were enormously popular during the Edo Period but which were suppressed and ignored, in Japan at least, until relatively recently following the aforementioned adoption of Victorian prudishness in the Meiji Period.

There was a small display of a variety of sexual paraphernalia like chastity belts, bondage gear, sex toys, etc, but the most intriguing, and to my mind wonderfully kitsch, were the animatronic displays that no longer worked, which I will cover in the second part......

The previous post in this series on the Kyushu Pilgrimage was the nearby Kifune Shrine. The previous post in the series of Disappeared Japan was Space World.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Miscellaneous Statues along the Hita Kaido

Statues along the Hita Kaido

One of the subjects I focus on finding as I walk the roads and lanes of Japan is sculptures. On my walk along the Hita Kaido, the old highway running East out of Kurume, I encountered a huge number of them  I've posted about the large number of Ebisu statues along the road. Ther were so may I did a second post. One town along the way had lots of Kappas, and of course, I recently posted a lot of Komainus.

This time I want to show you a selection of other statues from that day's walk that don't fit the other categories.

The top photo is of a small shrine that has a diverse collection of statues left by different parishioners over time. In this particular instance, all the statues are Buddhist, but very often they are a mix of Buddhist, Shi to, Daoist, secular, and occasionally, Christian statues.


Shrines tend to not have as many statues s temples. Earlier they would have had a lot of Buddhist staues but most were removed in the seperation of buddhas and kami. Other than komainu, I think the second most common category of shrine statues would be Zuijin. Usually nrightly ainted, but sometimes lain wood, Lafcadio Hearn says they were a shinto response to Buddhist Nio guardians, though many shrines had Nio, and in some places, like the Kunisaki Peninsula, they still do.

I have to admit I jave no idea who or what this pair represent......

You will sometimes find a white, wooden horse, usually inside a small structure. These derive, I thnk, from the ancient tradition of offering horses to shrines for rain, and probably, in my opinion, from an earlier time when animals were sacrificed. Some shrines have rather realistic, bronze statues of hotses, made in the modern period I believe. This stone horse was quite funky, and I am not sure of its purpose or meaning.

Finally, I came across this phallic statue. Once very widesread, now mostly extinct, though I do keep finding them, mostly in remote locations. Mostly fertility objects, but many were also for prayers to heal sexual ailments and diseases, and I recently came across a very popular shrine devoted to prayers for "sexual vigor".

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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Shibatatehime Shrine


Located on the bank of the Kuma River, Shibatatehime shrine, as the suffix "hime" suggests, enshrined a maiden. As the sculpted pillar also suggests it is primarily a fertility shrine.

People pray here for fertility, safe childbirth, relief from ailments of the "lower body", and "womens problems". There is a story about the founding of the shrine that involves incest and murder.

A rich man and his daughter were traveling in the area and became exhausted. They had sex together, and next day were totally refreshed and invigorated. Later, when they again became exhausted, the daughter wanted sex again, but the father, feeling profound guilt it is said, murdered her. The shrine was established by local people to pray for the soul of the murdered daughter.

I suspect this modern version of the legend has been somewhat altered to become more palatable to late 20th century Japanese sensibilities. I seek out fertility shrines while wandering off the beaten track, and while they are far fewer than in pre-Meiji days, there are still plenty of them to be found.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

On top of Mount Kannomine

Mount Kannomine, 425 meters above the sea on Osaki Kamijima in the Inland Sea, is the highest poinbt on the island and where I chose to spend the night on the second day of my walk along the Akinada chain of islands. This link will take you to the other posts from  that walk and the views of sunset from Kannomine.

As well as an observation point that offers stunning views across the Inland Sea, there are two, small religious sites, a Shinti shrine and a Buddhist temple. The shrine is a branch of Ishizuchi Shrine, the famous shrine on top of Mount Ishizuchi, the highest point on Shikoku, and a center for yamabushi and tengu.

Like the shrine, the small temple was also a concrete structure, and it was a Yakushi-do. It had a nice. small Fudo Myo, but the big surprise was a wooden phallus.

Other than a couple of famous sites and shrines in some of the big cities, phalli are far less common than they used to be and it is always a joy to find them in remote spots like this.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Tamatsukuri Fertility Shrine

One of the things I am on the lookout for while I wander the back roads of rural Japan are fertility shrines. Many of them, like this one in Tamatsukuri, Izumo, are not signed, not on maps, and not associated with priests.

The Izumo area has quite a lot of them, though of course tourists don't visit them like they do a couple of the famous ones up in the big cities.

This one had quite a few small, hand-carved Phallii, as well as a few stones representing the female......

This large one was enclosed in a small structure and seems to be the main object. There was also an altar put up by a gentleman in celebration of reaching 100 years of age.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Garden of Phalli: more Mara Kannon


This is the third and final post on Mara Kannon. The first post showed the thousands of small, votive phalli left at the shrine. The second, like this post, showed the larger, more individual votive phallic sculptures left there.


The larger ones are made out of wood, stone, and steel.


Most of the phalli are left with prayers for fertility, but other reasons exist..... to cure diseases of the genitals, for improved sexual "performance" etc etc.


Mara Kannon Shrine is located in Tawarayama, a small onsen village in the mountains of northern Yamaguchi Prefecture. There are infrequent buses from Nagato City.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Funadama Inari Shrine


The shrine is located in a residential area not far north of the main train station in Matsue, and while it is an Inari shrine there are none of the usual trappings associated with Inari.


In the corner was a Jizo, and I always somehow find it reassuring that the governments attempt to seperate the Buddhas and the Kami was never completely successful.


The main kami is of course Ukanomitama, and the secondary kami are Sokotsutsuno o no mikoto, Nakatsutsuno o no mikoto, and Uwatsutsuno o no mikoto, the triad of kami known mostly as the Sumiyoshi Kami. With strong connections to water and sea travel, the Sumiyoshi Kami are now mostly associated with the Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka, though originally they were from north Kyushu and have strong connections with Korea.


By the side of the shrine was a nicely shaped phallic stone. There was no signboard for it, but as Sarutahiko is listed as enshrined at the shrine the stone may well be a Dosojin.


There were a couple of smaller secondary shrines within the grounds that most likely were gathered here from the surrounding area. Enshrining Okuninushi, Susano, and Amaterasu, there is also a Haniyama Hime listed who is an earth/clay kami created from the feces of Izanami. The final kami listed here is Kan Yamato Iware Hiko no Mikoto which is the long name for Jinmu, the mythical first emperor of Japn

Monday, December 6, 2010

Asuka Nimasu Shrine


Asuka Nimasu Shrine in Asuka, the ancient capital of early Japan is a very old shrine and is one of the possible sources of the name of Asuka.

The three main kami enshrined here are Kotoshironushi, Takamimusubi, and Kayanarumi.

Kotoshironushi is an Izumo kami, one of Okuninushi's sons, nowadays equated with Ebisu. Kayanarumi is a daughter of Kotoshironushi, and Takamimusubi is one of the three "creator" kami. In some versions of the Kuniyuzuri myth that explains the ceding of Japan from Okuninushi to the Yamato, it is Takamimusubi who orders the process and not Amaterasu, and in fact Ninigi who descends to rule over Japan is the grandson of both Amaterasu and Takamimusubi.

Kayanarumi is the most interesting of the three, and an alternate name for her is Asuka no Kannabi mi Hime no kami, and this relates to what happened after Kuniyuzuri. Okuninushi decided to place himself and several of his relatives in the Kannabi (sacred mountains) surrounding Yamato, and Kayanarumi was placed in a mountain in Asuka, so it seems likely that she was the original main kami of the shrine.


There are a lot of secondary shrines within the grounds, enshrining Onamuchi (the name of Okuninushi enshrined in nearby Miwa), Oyamazumi, an Asuka Yamaguchi Shrine, and Sarutahiko.


There is also an Inari Shrine, one for Konpira, one for Daijingu, and one for Shirahige, a Korean god brought over with immigrants who settled in the Lake Biwa area.


When we look at some of the things for sale in the small office of the shrine it becomes clear what the focus of the shrine is,..... fertility!

This is a male/female sake cup.


The shrine is home to a famous matsuri, the Onda matsuri, which includes a performance with masked dancers that includes explicit representations of the sex act.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Phallic Hokora


Hokora are small roadside shrines found all over Japan.


Often the doors are closed, but sometimes they are open and one can see the shintai which is usually a stone, sometimes a small statue.


This one I found in a village in southern Okayama is obviously a small fertility shrine.


They were much more common in earlier days, though one can still find them in the countryside.

Each carving would have been made by a local person to ask the kami for a baby.