Worshippers on January 1, 2012.

by Kazu
Sorachi Shrine is located in Bibai City, Sorachi sub-prefectural area, Hokkaido. As I mentioned before, each municipality and community has its own shrine. Many people leave their house for annual worship before midnight and visited nearest or biggest shrine in their parish. We Japanese place the importance to spending hours for the annual worship on both of Dec.31 and Jan.1. In many cases, the primises of each shrine is so crowded and "Amazake ", sweet alcohol for mainly kids and females are served for visitors. 

P's and Q's are very important particulary in Japan.
The worshippers couteously queue up in front of the building of the shrine and wait their turn in good manners.
At the front line of the queue, the worshippers throw the coins or bills into the box for donation and swing the thick rope connected to the bell to ring it. They bow twice to the God assumed to sit back in the inner part of the building and clap twice to call let the God know of their worship. Worshippers ask the God about their success, good health, peace, Jackpot in lottery, etc.
 Normally a pair of stone guardian dogs are at the gate of the premises and in front of the building of the shrine.
  But sometimes such pretty stone dog guards the sacred area. His name is FUSO and it is assumed that the model of this stone guardian dog is the companion annimal that passed away years ago.
 Japanese religion Shinto has the relationship with animism. Oinari-san, the god of fox is also enshrined in the same premises of Shinto shrine.Different from shinto shrine, the buildings for the god of
fox are painted in red and white.
This is the shrine in Takikawa City, Sorachi sub-prefectural area, Hokkaido. The shape of the building is almost same  with that of Sorachi shrine in Bibai City but the number of the worshippers are nuch bigger.
 In last December, we had so heavy snow in Sorachi sub-prefectural area and the loof of each shrines are covered with heavy snow even now.
Japanese Shinto has some streams and the local shrines has its roots in different places.
This is the branch of IZUMO Taisya, head quartered in Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture in western part of Japan.
 This monument at the side of the gate shows that it is the branch of IZUMO Great Shrine.

This thick ropes are said to show two snakes making love that fend off mice and rats that eat up crops and spread epidemics and evils.
   Just before the World War Ⅱ, it was noised that Japanese people worshiped snake because of this ropes and the hatred Japanese itself.
 This is the shrine in Iwamizawa, Sorachi sub-prefectural area.
 Like other countries, many vendors are along the way from the gate to the shrine building.
 Japanese people have enough patience to wait in line for their worship.
 This kind of ropes are considered border of ordinal area and sacred area as well as the gate. The worshippers should go through the side of the gate no the center.
A variety of vendors are selling food including confections. Cotton sugar called "Watagashi", Japanese pancake ball with octopas meat in it, Japanese pizza "Okonomi-yaki" and grilled sausages are popular in various kinds of festival in Japan.  Now that it is in winter, naturally the kind of venders are limited. Goldfish fishing that is the must in summer festival is not appropriate in the cold weather.
After the worship, everybody pick up the fortunetelling paper, read the contents and keep it in mind.
What will happen in the year of Dragon in Chinese astrology ?

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