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The Maternity Shrine

This post caught my attention now that I am a mother. I certainly would no longer simply consider this shrine creepy like I did in 2011. Something else must have fascinated and saddened me about it then, too. There is so much hope and longing for a child and for a safe delivery out there. I wish I had visited again when I was pregnant.

Edited on January 26, 2022.

Photo by H. McGaughey

Kyoto, Japan 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. 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 remember it told by the guide.

Before the shrine was built, a young woman and her husband lived in the home still 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 wise guide. Now, expectant mothers come to the shrine and lay dolls there in hopes of having a safe delivery.

When I first turned to see 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 unkempt 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.