Tokyo is stuffed with gorgeous shrines and temples, but some of the gods in residence have hilarious and entertaining specialties! Here are the ones dedicated to my favorite kami-sama and how to snag some of their favor for yourself:
THE WART SHRINE
Resident kami-sama’s superpower: Curing warts
How to get your warts cured: Throw a coin in the offering box, bow, pick up a handful of the salt surrounding the Jizo figure, rub it on the offending area, throw it back on the pile, bow again
More to see nearby:
THE TIED-UP SAINT
Resident kami-sama’s superpower: Saving your bacon from a tricky situation
How to ask the Shibarare Jizo to get you out of a pickle: Throw a ¥100 coin in the offering box, put your hands together and ask for what you need, choose a piece of rope from the rack, tie it around the figure. When your wish is granted, return to the temple and toss in another ¥100 coin, thank the Shibarare Jizo, untie one of the ropes on the figure, toss it into one of the wooden baskets near the altar
THE COMIC BOOK SHRINE
Resident kami-sama’s superpower: Boosting the careers of anime and comic book artists
How to ask the gods to help you become a successful artist: Buy a wooden prayer plaque (ema) at the shrine store window (in the building to the left of the main sanctuary), pen your wish on the back, draw something awesome, hang it on one of the racks.
THE MATCHMAKING SHRINE
Resident kami-sama’s superpower: Finding that perfect someone
How to ask the gods to find you the perfect mate: Buy a wooden prayer plaque (ema) at the shrine store window, pen your wish on the back, hang it on the rack. When your wish is granted, return to the shrine and do the same thing again to thank them.
THE SINGLE WORD SHRINE
Resident kami-sama’s superpower: Granting any request that can be made with only one word
How to ask the Hitocoto Jizo to grant your heartfelt wish: Feed a coin into the offering box. Clap your hands twice. Fold your hands and bow your head and say the word. Bow again.
THE SCAPEGOAT SHRINE
Resident kami-sama’s superpower: Taking your place when you’re on the hot seat
How to ask the Migawari Jizo to save you from a pounding: Bring some incense along with you, to burn in the little altar in front of the figure. Light the incense, put it on the little tray, fold your hands and make your wish.
THE LOST CAT SHRINE
Resident kami-sama’s superpower: Returning lost cats to their owners
THE HAIR SHRINE
Resident kami-sama’s superpower: Smiling upon the careers of hairstyists, Kabuki and Noh stage actors & wig makers, and restoring thinning hair to its youthful glory
How to enlist the good hair gods to smile upon your tresses, receding hairline, and/or hair-centric career: Toss a coin into the offering box. Bow and clap twice. Fold your hands and bow your head. Make a wish. Bow again.
THE FOX SHRINE
Resident kami-sama’s superpower: Granting big wishes (this is a famed power spot), especially wishes having to do with business success/prosperity
How to enlist the fox gods to shower prosperity upon you: Buy a set of fox figures at the shrine shop. Hike up the path, and when you see a setting that feels right to you, nestle your foxes into the scene, fold your hands, and make your wish. Leave them there to work their magic.
THE DISH-BREAKING SHRINE
Resident kami-sama’s superpower: Banishing negative people from your life
How to get rid of negative people in your life: Put ¥100 in the offering box. Take a dish. Walk around to the place with two big rocks surrounded by pottery shards. Stand before one of the rocks and wish for the negative person to be gone from your life. Throw the dish as hard as you can against the rock. If it doesn’t break, buy another one and try again. Rinse, repeat.
THE MONEY-WASHING SHRINE
Resident kami-sama’s superpower: Doubling your money within the year
How to double your money in the next year: Pay ¥100 to the monk manning the window at the shrine shop, and take an empty basket from the stack in front. Put the money you want to double in the basket. Enter the cave to your left and wait your turn to dip some water from the stream and pour it over your money. Let your money air dry (don’t try to dry it over the burning incense in the urn, or it might go up in smoke instead!)
And finally, just because shrines can’t have all the fun…
THE FIRE CEREMONY TEMPLE
Resident kami-sama’s superpower: Boosting your prosperity in the coming year
How to wish for prosperity at a fire ceremony: Take a seat in the upper gallery reserved for onlookers (rather than the seats reserved for participants in the middle). Wait for the part of the service where the priest issues an invitation for anyone to bring their wallet or purse down to be blessed by the flames. Follow the other petitioners down to the priest and hand him your wallet/purse when it’s your turn.
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon
“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist