Monday, February 11, 2013

Our New Year's Prayer in Kyoto

January 1, 2013 ~ Our New Year's Prayer:
Our first EMA Prayers altogether: Taka, Atreyu and mine

It has been one of my Japan trip tradition to stop by a Shinto Shrine and offer some prayers.  It's always nice to have a piece of good vibes written down in a prayer. I have been doing it for a few times already in Tokyo and Osaka... As I visit more Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples in Japan (well I still have just visited few) I think I'm getting more interested with them. It was a whole new experience to see Shinto Shrines and learn about Shinto Prayers and Charms during the New Year. This time during our visit to the Fushimi Inari Taisha, I just wanted to do my Japan trip tradition altogether with Taka & Atreyu, it was definitely a memorable experience for us.
So many people  saying their prayers at the Fushimi Inari Taisha

The popular tradition of the first visit to the Shinto Shrine during the New Year is called Hatsumōde... I feel like a "local" participating in such traditional custom... but in reality I'm just an overly eager tourist. Haha.  At first I just wanted us to write in our own Ema ~those small wooden plaques used for Shinto prayers and wishes but I didn't realize it was gonna be a "hunt" as it was like a Black Friday Sale especially nearby the the area selling those "New Year Good Luck Charms" (Gomen nasai for the lack of Nihongo vocabulary words to call them all collectively...) During regular days, Ema's can be easily found hanging in almost every corner of Shinto Shrines... But since it was the New Year's Day, Omikuji were mostly hanged everywhere.
Omukuji: random fortunes written on strips of paper when it says something bad luck they're often tie to a tree in the shrine area and hope the bad fortune won't come true

After a few walks and turns around the crowded shrine, we finally found where most Shinto charms were... I thought I'd just grab the first thing by the rack just like the other times I've came visit shrines (on a regular non-holiday) but there were so many customary charms that I found... before finding those good-old-ema's that I've come accustomed to... Well this time, I needed my kareshi's Shinto knowledge to be my tourist guide on learning these things...
New Year Shinto talisman available at the Fushimi Inari Taisha
Shimenawa: placed on doors/walls during the New Year's Day 
Hamaya: “demon-breaking arrow " is a decorative arrow believed to bring good luck and is sold at Shinto Shrines during the first days of the year.

There were even "combo-sets" haha! That's probably useful since most Shinto practitioners usually get the whole set... More good luck charms the better! Haha!

Ema & Hamaya Combo: those Ema has scary looking faces haha
Hamaya + Ema all in one. Upon seeing this, I felt relieved we' finally found where the Ema's were... for some short time I thought they might not be selling Ema's for the New Year...
True enough we found the stacks of EMA stacked along wih other talisman... I thought these were all EMA but apparently they have different purpose and names as well...
Ofuda ~ a type of household amulet or talisman hung in the house for protection

Finally! We found the rack of EMA! Well, since it was the most important day of the year, EMA's are a bit pricier... During the regular days EMA's are usually around 500 Yen but this time it was 800 Yen. Well, we didn't mind, it's for our New Year Prayers anyways... 

We finally found the EMA's!

Since this 2013 is the Year of the Water Snake and EMA's are usually painted with a Shinto imagery (Shinto Religion also have the same Animal Years like the Chinese Zodiac) the EMA we found were painted with snake imagery. But we couldn't decide which of the green snake and the white snake print we wanted. Atreyu chose the white  one because he said it fits him (because he was dressed like a polar bear haha).

Which one to get? The Green Snake or the White Snake? 

After Atreyu picked our EMA, he was very excited to write in it. I like seeing him eager with writing... Although he has a very unique handwriting haha. It's nice to see Atreyu reflective.

Atreyu concentrating of his prayer intensions for the New Year... He wanted to come back again to Japan he says haha!
Atreyu had alot of wishes haha! But they were all good intentions!

After Atreyu, Taka also wrote in our EMA, we always share EMA's together and I like seeing Kareshi write in Kanji. Hehe. Yeah I'm weird, I think it looks beautiful... and Kareshi has nice hands too haha! 

Taka completing our EMA... I like his Kanji writing. hehe.

Finally we made it... Atreyu was very proud to show it off! I feel we are more connected with each other all three of us sharing prayers together.

Our first EMA together... Taka, Atreyu and mine... I hope the Kami's will bless us altogether...

It was a nice experience sharing it with my son and my kareshi... After our visit, we went back to Kyoto Station to get a glimpse of Kyoto (plus we were hungry! haha!) But the thing was, since most places for hanging were all filled with the Omikuji... We couldn't find any place to hang it by the Fushimi Inari Taisha... So, we just decided to take it with us... 

Our souvenirs from Kyoto! We got to bring back home in Manila our EMA

Now, it hangs by our apartment door here in Manila. It's nice though, every time I get home I always remember our prayers altogether and our memorable spiritual visit to the Fushimi Inari Taisha...

Our old door of our tiny aparment. Hehe. Gomen nasai, it's a pretty old door. But we placed some nice banana charms in it too! Haha!
Hope it brings us good vibes and good fortune all throughout the year... But for sure it's already bringing us nice memory of our trip to Kyoto altogether. 


  1. Oh you put that EMA on your door. that is nice haha. you know those ema, hamaya, or things from religion places are believed to grab and keep luck in house so you will be protected and embraced with a good power. your apt will be a great place to be. btw, you should put ramen pic haha

    1. Yeah, I like seeing it home and always seeing our writing altogether. Nice memories! I hope our apartment gets more luck! Okaeri Neko also guards it! Haha!

      Yeah actually, I'm getting to our Ramen experience in Kyoto! Haha!

  2. Hey Tracy!!
    Awww, this is by far one of my favourite posts you've done ^.^ I love all of it!! Haha. I bet it was such a lovely thing for you three to do together, and even nicer that you took the EMA home as a happy reminder of trip and your New Years prayers. (love the bananas hanging on it btw...nice tropical feel? Haha!)
    Ohh and i actually lol-ed at the comment about Taka nice hands :p hahaha! He'll be onto you when your.sneaking peaks at them from now on! ^_*

    1. Hi Em! Thank you! I'm glad you enjoy them... this is actually our joint effort (Taka and I) I didn't have any idea what were those Shinto Talismans were! Taka helped me with the Shinto stuff here haha!

      Those bananas were from Chinese New Year few years back, I don't know what kind of luck though... Atreyu just love bananas so I placed them there! Haha!

      Haha! I always make those comments haha! I'm kinda envy with his hands! Mine is all beaten up because of drawing, writing and making crafts... while his hands looks like a girl's hands haha! ❤ ^0^ ❤

    2. Haha! I wondered where you got all the knowledge from, I thought you must have remembered it all!

      Well at least every time you look at the nanas it will remind you of Atreyu :)

      Oh my gosh that's like Nath's feet! He has baaaby smooth feet, were as mine are all dry and hard from walking around at work all day and years of ballet.... Us girls must be doing all the work haha ox

    3. Haha! Sometimes I even know more things than my Japanese BF LOL (Ironic!) He's main job is to read Kanji (LOL) haha I'm just joking!

      Ballet is hardcore! You are one bad-ass girly-girl! Haha! ^_^

  3. Replies
    1. I already removed it. Since it seems like a bad fortune that came to my life. Everything written there didn't happen.


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