Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Shrines at Night

Friday night was 'Octopus night' in Shinjuku. At Hanazono Shrine, before my eyes, these

got turned into this - the most tentacle-tastic Takoyaki (octopus pancakes) I've eaten in Tokyo. Yum!

This octopus feast was courtesy of one of Tokyo's liveliest night-time festivals, Tori no Ichi. It's a celebration of good fortune held in Japan on Chinese 'Rooster' days during November. It was late, but people were everywhere - eating, drinking and praying to the gods for riches:

Between the main Torii gate and the shrine itself, stalls were selling everything from lucky rakes to the sight of a woman eating a live snake (!)

Shrines aren't always full of people, though. And when they aren't, they are spooky. The sight of this Torii on a dark walk home on another night was decidedly unsettling:

It got me thinking about Japanese ghosts - Yurei. In the stories, these phantoms can appear anywhere, but most often in the Japanese 'witching hour' between 2 and 3 in the morning.

Which is about when I walked past this. Eep!

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