Tokyobling's Blog

Anamori Inari Shrine – Haneda

Posted in Places by tokyobling on August 20, 2013

One of the three shrines in Tokyo’s Haneda district is the Anamori Inari Shrine (穴守稲荷神社), near the station of the same name on the Keikyu Airport Line. Together they make up the Haneda Shrine itself. Being an inari shrine means that it is a shrine devoted to the Inari God, always shown in the form of a fox, responsible for protecting farming, fertility and rice. Usually the foxes comes in pairs, one male and one female. There are quite a few legends attached to the shrine and it is popular with pregnant women and parents. Of over 80 000 shrines in Japan about 32 000 are Inari Shrines. Although not the most powerful, Inari is certainly the most popular with ordinary people! In the old days some of these shrines kept live fox but this is very unusual these days, only once have I seen a real fox underneath a torii gate, in 2009 up in Miyagi prefecture!

The best fox though, is Konchan, the fox just outside the Anamori Inari Jinja Station, dressed up in the festival garb of the Haneda festival and sponsored by the airlines of Japan. Konchan wears different clothes on different days and the people of the city takes turn dressing her up in seasonal clothes. When I visited there was a sign that they were looking for volunteers to make a new set clothes for her. I wonder if I should step up?









Dancing Fox Hayashi – Hachioji Festival

Posted in Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on September 29, 2012

I love foxes, so I’m lucky to live in a country where foxes are important in mythology and folk culture, such as these hayashi dancers you sometimes see at local festivals. Accompanied by drummers, a flutist and often one or two other dancers, the fox is a popular role to portray especially for younger boys! This young fox was already quite skilled, and together with a lion he performed a quite fearsome dance by the side of the road in Hachiouji, Western Tokyo earlier this summer. These days the fox mane of white hair is synthetic, but in the old days poorer groups would use dried grass, and I am sure the richer ones used real hair!

Yagicho Dashi – Kitsune Hayashi

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on August 17, 2012

Another of the many great dashi (mobile ritual stages) of the Hachioji Matsuri, the city festival earlier this month. Yagicho is a small area between Hachioji and Nishihachioji but their dashi had four different dancers at once during the peak hours of the festival. Two white foxes and two red foxes. Foxes hold a special place in Japanese mythology and religion and if you’ve followed this blog for a while you will have seen a lot of fox related posts!

A Fox in the Snow

Posted in Animals, Japanese Traditions, Places by tokyobling on December 1, 2009

I finally got the one shot I have been waiting for years to come true. A real fox in a real shrine. It might not seem like much, but after seeing the fox statues in Japanese shrines for year I have been dying to try and get a photo of a real fox under those red gates (the tori). While in Miyagi Prefecture last week, in Shiraishi Town I finally got the chance when I met a couple of very friendly foxes in a small shrine. Shot with my 50mm lens at between 50 and 100cm distance. Aren’t they just adorable? And sorry, I couldn’t help but adding that Belle & Sebastian song reference in the title.

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