Tuesday, September 23, 2008
If you're at a holy temple during a celebration, you most likely will encounter these demons. They are not there to scare you, they are there to scare bad fortune out of you. If their presence isn't scary enough, they will also beat the bad fortune out of you. I enjoy the amused look on the face of the woman in the lower picture. She looks like it is working. While they 'beat' you up with their sticks, they chant phrases to entice the bad fortune to flee this person.
This temple (Ishite-ji) is a Buddhist temple but the demons are not Buddhist but Shinto. Japan's native religion is Shinto but Buddhism came to Japan via China long ago. The two have combined and co-existed ever since. Buddhist temples are big and imposing. Shinto shrines tend to blend in with nature more. It is not uncommon to see a Shinto shrine and a Buddhist temple sit side by side or combined into one building with an entrance for the Shinto shrine and an entrance for the Buddist temple.