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The Dish-Breaking Shrine

This spring, the ever-impish kami-sama apparently thought I was in need of some sort of life lesson. Because every time I set out with a well-planned, perfectly-timed plan, it was like this: “You know that amazing thing you traveled three hours on four trains to see? Well, forget it. You’re not going to see it. Instead you’re going to see this.”

Like, I went to Kamakura to take pictures of the famously famous promenade of cherry trees leading up to the Tsurugaoka Shrine, only to find that 1) the magnificent ones in all the photos had been recently replaced by skinny saplings and 2) they weren’t even close to blooming yet (even though the ones in Tokyo were already dialled up to 100% fluffypink WHY.)

Disgruntled and not wanting to trudge around to spots I’d been to countless times before, I set off to walk around a neighborhood that I’d never explored because it doesn’t boast a single famous shrine or temple.

And…I stumbled across Kamakura-gu – the shrine where if you break a dish, ye olde resident gods will boot pesky, negative people from your life for good.

Okay, how great is that?

Seriously, could there be anything more satisfying?
All you have to do is drop a hundred yen coin in the box, pick a dish, say a little prayer, and hurl that sucker against one of the two rocks placed conveniently nearby for the purpose. If the dish breaks, goodbye shade-thrower!
But wait, that’s not all – Kamakura-gu is also dragon shrine…
…which means that you can buy these little wooden clappers, and when you shake them, the fierce little red guy simultaneously scares away bad luck and invites good luck in to take its place.

Allow me to demonstrate:

 

And if that weren’t enough, there’s a figure of the brave and loyal samurai, Yoshimitsu Murakami (who took not one but SIX arrows for his lord) and if you make an offering and rub his kindly figure, he’ll take on your aches and pains too.

Okay, I get it. Kami-sama, YOU WIN.

Tucked into a quiet residential neighborhood, Kamakura-gu is about a ten minute walk from the entrance to Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu shrine. If you’d like to go the next time you’re in town, here’s a map.

And just for fun, here are the eleven strangest shrines in Tokyo, with all the inside scoop on the resident gods’ superpowers

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Jonelle Patrick View All

Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!

4 thoughts on “The Dish-Breaking Shrine Leave a comment

    • It’s deeply satisfying. They make a great sound when they smash too! Also, there’s a killer homemade soba shop nearby with the best gobo-ten I’ve ever eaten anywhere, and they have soba-gaki!(手打ち蕎麦 千花庵・鎌倉店、西御門2丁目6−13)

    • Great post! I’ve wanted to hike that trial ever since the first time I went to the fox shrine and found out you could walk to the Daibutsu from there. Thank you for including the link, and now that I’m signed up for your newsletter, I look forward to reading of your further adventures!・° ♪・☆

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