TsukuBlog

A Local Perspective on Life in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Unique Winter Offerings in Tsukuba : Two-Pronged Daikon Radish (FUTAMATA DAIKON)

 

December 28, 2015 in Sa, Tsukuba - futamata (two-legged) daikon laid out as an offering

December 28, 2015 in Sa, Tsukuba – futamata (two-legged) daikon laid out as an offering

By Avi Landau

Let me tell you about a fascinating local custom. It involves FUTAMATA-DAIKON(二股大根),which is the Japanese term for a double-pronged daikon radish. These two-legged curiosities turn up at a surprisingly high rate when farmers harvest their daikon crop in late autumn.The abberant shapes are caused by small rocks,hard clumps of soil or fertilizer,insects, or uneven distribution of irrigation water.

Futamata daikon at a roadside shrine in Konda, Tsukuba

Futamata daikon at a roadside shrine in Konda, Tsukuba

The futamata daikon cannot be found on sale in stores or stalls , and in fact, though perfectly edible, they are traditionally NOT eaten. When I asked several local farmers why this was so, they all came out with the same response, in tones implying that I shouldnt have had to ask
such a question-we dont eat them because they look like peoples legs!
Due to this resemblance to the lower half of the human body, local farmers show reverence and do not simply discard these unsellable roots which are not to be eaten, for it is believed that the disrespect of doing so would bring on leg or foot trouble.
What is done then with these significantly shaped vegetables?

Higashi-oka Tsukuba

Higashi-oka Tsukuba

In Tsukuba, the rest of Ibaraki Prefecture and in some outlying areas farmers offer the futamata daikon to a type of sekibutsu(sacred stone) called a dosojin(道祖神),the protector of travellers, roads and the entrance to villages. I suppose that I dont have to point out the
connection between travel and legs(oops, I just did!).locals leave futamata daikon and a variety of foot-wear(anything from straw sandals to sneakers) in front of the dosojin to pray for healthy legs feet and lower back.

Higashi-oka, Tsukuba

Higashi-oka, Tsukuba

This week I have found and photographed dozens of plump and juicy offerings which are rustically photogenic.They will be left exposed to the elements and as the weeks go by they will become the dried out and scrawny shadows that you might find next summer.

Let me make one very important point clear.Though the offering of futamata daikon to dosojin is a VERY localized custom and unfamiliar to most Japanese, dosojin stones are generally known and found throughout Japan. They are most famous in Nagano Prefecture, especially around the beautiful town of Azumino

An offering of foot-wear in Japan often signifies someone has gone off on a pligrimage - but around Tsukuba it is done as a prayer for aching feet and lower-backs

An offering of foot-wear in Japan often signifies someone has gone off on a pligrimage – but around Tsukuba it is done as a prayer for aching feet and lower-backs – Teshirogi, Tsukuba (December 2015)

These dosojin,however, look completely different from most of their Ibaraki counterparts and also have a totally different significance. The typical image of the dosojin is a stone carving of a loving couple, set on the roadside.Making offerings to them can be efficacious for matchmaking and fertility.In Tsukuba almost all the dosojin I have found are simple stones with only the characters 道祖神 engraved on them.
In Dejima and Yasato I have found very special dosojin with graven images of a single one-legged man.This shows further how in this area these sekibutsu are associated with legs and feet.

If you put in some leg work you might be able to find examples of this custom. You`ll be able to get some great pictures.
I’m not pulling your leg!

Sa, Tsukuba

Sa, Tsukuba

I have also posted this article on my TenGooz Blog (on my band`s website)

The two-pronged radishes carved onto the side of this shrine have another meaning - they represent a woman with spread legs - while the radish (with a leafy top) coming down the middle represents the male organ. Up until the Meiji Period the Yahashira Shrine in Makabe (now Sakuragawa City) was a Buddhist temple called the Kongo-in which was dedicated to Kangiten, the deity of marital harmony. The radishes symbolized the harmonious relation between the male and the female. Locals leave their two pronged radishes as offerings at this shrine as well

The two-pronged radishes carved onto the side of this shrine have another meaning – they represent a woman with spread legs – while the radish (with a leafy top) coming down the middle represents the male organ. Up until the Meiji Period the Yahashira Shrine in Makabe (now Sakuragawa City) was a Buddhist temple called the Kongo-in which was dedicated to Kangiten, the deity of marital harmony. The radishes symbolized the harmonious relation between the male and the female. Locals leave their two pronged radishes as offerings at this shrine as well

 

 



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


nine − = 3

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>