While traveling in Japan, you are bound to come across a shrine regardless of where you are. Be it big or small, old or new, these sacred places of worship are unique in their own ways. These shrines, which are well-known for boosting one’s luck in love or chances of finding a life partner, are popular with both locals and tourists. As the warmer spring approaches, how about visiting these three “romance” shrines in Okinawa (沖縄) and the Kyushu (九州) region to bring some fortune to your love life?
Futenmagu is located at Futenma, Ginowan City (宜野湾市) in Okinawa and is the largest shrine in central Okinawa. Besides its main building, the shrine also has an inner hall located within a limestone cave measuring 280m long. It has two entrances and a large square, which was designated as a famous cultural asset by the Ginowan City Government. There are two holy stones formed by the forces of nature and known as the Yin and Yang stones. They symbolize men and women, and are said to boost your love luck after praying to them.
Udo Jingu is located within a naturally-formed cave facing the Hyuga Sea (日向灘) in Nichinan City (日南市), Miyazaki Prefecture (宮崎県) and is known affectionately by the nickname “Udo-san”. The shrine has always enjoyed a reputation for being especially good at granting the wishes of those who want to pray for luck in romance, pregnancy, and childbirth due to its Ochichiiwa (おちちいわ) or “the breast rock”. If you are visiting, be sure to buy the Ochichiame (おちちあめ – breast sweets).
Kirishima Jingu is located in Kirishima City (霧島市), Kagoshima Prefecture (鹿児島県), which was built on the top of Mt. Takachiho (高千穂峰) in the 6th century. Due to the repeated volcanic eruptions in the area, the shrine was burnt down repeatedly. Despite having moved a number of times, the shrine was still not spared from fires and had to be relocated and rebuilt.
The shrine’s current building was built in 1715. For those seeking a boost to their love luck, check out the romance fortune telling slips attached to paper dolls. As this is also where the historical figure Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) and his wife, Oryo (お龍), spent their honeymoon, the shrine also provides ema, or wooden praying plates of the couple, which you can write your wishes on.
Just visiting these shrines alone may not be enough to bring your Mr. Right or Miss Right to you. Knowing how to pray and following the expected manners during your shrine visit are also key factors for your success. Here are a number of points which you should keep in mind:
1. Keep the right mindset and attitude when visiting the shrine
The purpose of your visit to the shrine shouldn’t be just to wish for something from the gods. In fact, as the shrine is supposed to be a place for the gods and human beings to interact, you should be paying your respects to the god at the shrine and offer your feelings of gratitude and prayer. While wishing for something, it is also important to be humble and spare a thought for the people around you by praying for their well-being too, rather than focusing on your own wishes only.
2. Sometimes near is better than far
Although there are many shrines well-known for being good at answering prayers for certain matters, it is sometimes better to head to a nearby shrine rather than one far from you and your local area. It is believed that the ujigami (氏神) knows the people living in the area well and will be able to help you better.
3. Never walk in the middle of the path on approaching the shrine
It is believed that the approach is the path of the gods so human beings should always walk at the sides rather than in the middle. This is to show respect for the gods and it is recommended to remove items such as hats, caps, sunglasses and earphones while walking towards the shrine.
4. Clean your hands and mouth before entering the shrine
In order to show the utmost respect for the gods and cleanse your body of dirty things before meeting them, it is important that you clean your hands and mouth. Do take note not to let the wooden ladle touch your mouth too.
5. Pray in the correct manner
Remember the two bows-two claps-one bow rule, where you stand in front of the god first and bow deeply two times. After this, clap two times before putting your hands together and tell the god what you would like to pray for. End the process by bowing deeply again.
6. Don’t leave straight after praying
After you are done with the ritual, it is considered rude to leave immediately as this shows that the person is selfish and only concerned with having their wishes granted by the gods. It will be good to walk around the shrine’s grounds and bask in the spiritual energy there before leaving.
In addition, you should also take some concrete action towards achieving your goals rather than depend on the gods only. It is believed that by being proactive, your fortune will flow like the wind and set things into action.
7. Hold your horses when it comes to buying the good luck charms
At the shrines, you will see a variety of omamori (お守り) or good luck charms for different purposes such as traffic safety, romance, studies, work, and health. Although it is fine to have one omamori for each category or purpose, you should not be too greedy and buy too many omamori for the same category. It is said that this does not increase your fortune and is a sign of disrespect to the gods. If you really must get more than one for a particular purpose, try to limit it to no more than three different charms.
Have fun exploring the shrines and hope that you will get a boost to your love luck soon!
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