The Maternity Shrine

I took this picture on a neighborhood tour near Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto. This shrine is located in what looks like the garden of a private home. Since I was chatting with another person on the tour, I did not catch the whole explanation, and I can’t find any information online, because I don’t know the name of this shrine. So, here is the story as I think I heard it told by the guide.

Before the shrine was built, a young woman and her husband lived in the home next to the shrine. The woman died giving birth to a son, who survived, but he would cry and cry without end. Nothing would soothe him, until they built this shrine to his mother. He probably just wanted to be breast fed, commented the guide. Now, expectant mothers come to the shrine and lay dolls there in hopes of having a safe delivery.

When the conversation I was having was cut short in front of this place, and I first saw the shrine, it gave me the creeps. The air seemed so negative in this place, but was it the effect of the dolls and the unkept nature of the shrine itself or was it a negative aura or spirit as some people would describe it? I don’t know, but I certainly wouldn’t want to live in the house next door.