The World Around the Shrine
I may have lived in Japan for most of my 20s now, but when I take pictures, they are still mostly touristy shots of shrines, temples, nice houses, and flowers that I see while traveling. (I only post a small selection of the photos I take.) And although I live in Yokohama, I feel in some sense like a tourist in this city and in Tokyo, where I go almost daily. But I think a tourist can have a kind of openness that a resident might not have, because a resident is familiar with their world and takes a good chunk of things for granted.
That is not to say, however, that a tourist doesn’t take anything for granted. They see the foreign world as it fits with cultural stereotypes. A common tourist’s photo of a Japanese shrine will show a red tori gate or the main shrine building with maybe a few Japanese people praying in front of it. These pictures show the quiet and calm within the shrine, a quiet calm that may or may not be because of a lack of people in these places. When shrines are full of people for festivals, for example, the atmosphere is completely different.
But how does a shrine fit into the cultural fabric of life around it? I don’t think I can answer that now, but that is the question that came to mind when I saw this picture again. It seems to give some answer, but I can’t seem to be able to put it into words yet. . .
Speaking of shrine festivals and the relationship between shrines and the world of the neighborhoods around them, I’m now reminded of a post I did a long time ago of a festival at Shimo-Goryo Shrine near where I used to live in Kyoto. The atmosphere there was very different from the atmosphere in the picture above. . .
In the near future, I’ll post a picture of the student art exhibition that was going on within the precincts of the Kamigamo Shrine during this visit. And the recent picture of children playing in the water was taken on the same visit.