Aoshima Shrine

IMG_0591_1On the last day of my trip to Miyazaki Prefecture in January I traveled to Aoshima Shrine with my fiancée and her family. The shrine is located in the middle of the forest on a small island connected to the mainland by a bridge. The day we attended was a large festival where attendees braved the cold seawater for good luck this year. We arrived in the afternoon so we missed the crowds.

Next to the island is an interesting rock formation that was used to wash clothes long ago. Today, the rocks, which look almost like frozen waves are still visited by shrine goers and fishermen.

IMG_0638_1Like most shrines, Aoshima is a place to pray or find fortune. There is a place to wash your hands before entering the shrine proper. Next to the main shine there were two ways to pray I had never seen before. In the picture below you can see two objects. Turning the object 5 times while praying for something should help. The one on the left is an old mill and very heavy, so it requires more effort. Of course, offerings also usually include money, so you place 50 yen on the spike for the harder challenge and 5 yen to spin the big coin.

IMG_0677_1To the right of the main shrine and through the trees is a smaller and much older shrine. To get there, you pass under eta, carved plaques with people’s wishes and prayers. Here, there are two more unique ways to make offerings. To the left of the shrine are two large ropes with bells attached. One can buy a small colored string (the color corresponds to what you want to pray for) and then attach it to the large rope and shake the bell. Some people also tie 5 or 50 yen coins onto the rope for extra luck.

Behind the shrine is a roped off area. Here you can buy a clay disc or seashell and throw it into the shrine. If it breaks your prayer will be granted, if not, you’re out of luck.

While there we also got our fortunes. We shook a wooden box until a numbered stick came out. The number on the stick corresponds to one of many shelves with paper fortunes. This year I got great fortune. We tied them onto the nearby line.