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A small shrine next to an apartment building
I wonder who's in charge of maintaining this.

Toyokawa Dakini Ten shrine

Every once in a while there's a little shrine tucked into some free space. This small triangle of land sandwiched between a building (I think it was residential) and some back alleys got a shrine placed on it, rather a bunch of potted plants. Or maybe the shrine was there before the building.

A web search turned up some information on what a dakini is, and about a big Toyokawa shrine in Aichi prefecture, but nothing on this location, unsurprisingly. I can't think of any way to find out other than knocking on doors and asking residents if any of them know. I'm not that dedicated.

Anyway, what I learned was 吒枳尼 is dakini, which are buddhist spirits, which somehow when they came to Japan became associated with foxes, which are shinto spirits, so there's some weird syncretism going on there. Buddhism and Shintoism were closely intertwined up until the Meiji restoration, when they were formally separated. There are a few formerly combined temples and shrines around that basically build a wall dividing them in two. I remember one near a place I worked in Shibuya, although I don't think I have any photos of it. I'll have to remember to stop by and get some sometime.

Published Jul 10, 2020

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