By Avi Landau
Carrots are offered at the Hanari Kannon Hall in Yatabe, Tsukuba – the main image of this temple is the Bato Kannon (Horse-headed Kannon), a very popular deity in the Tsukuba area. Also note the fresh, lightning shaped strips of SHIDE (pronounced SHEE DEH) – signifying the deity descending to earth from the heavens. You can also still see scatterings of rice.
An Inari Shrine in Yatabe, Tsukuba with fresh strips of Shide
A carrot offered to an ancient sacred stone with the character Bato-Kannon (horse-headed Kannon) hardly visible after long years of exposure to the elements
A fresh straw shelter for an anonymous sacred stone in Tsukuba (this custom has become quite rare in the last ten years and most stones like this are given an unsightly concrete shelter (Yatabe, Tsukuba)
I was astounded (and very moved) to find this straw Yin-Yang (Yoni-Linga) symbol. It is the “Village Guardian” of the hamlet of Yamauchi, on the shores of Lake Kasumigaura. Susumu Saga described seeing this very same type of “guardian” being made as a boy – one hundred years ago, in his book “Remembrance of Village Days Past”
A carrot and a fresh To-ba (pronounced Toh bah) to console the spirits of livestock slaughtered in Tsukuba this year. A Toba is a Buddhist monument made of a single plank of wood. The Sanskrit letters on top signify the 5 realms of the Buddhist universe.
Fresh strips of Shide and a bowl of rice for these Linga (phalluses) and Nyoirin Kannon (on the left) – which is the protective deity of women.
In the old neighborhood of Sa, in Tsukuba- a two-pronged daikon radish offered as a prayer for relief of leg and lower back pain.
A row of sacred stones (dedicated to various deities) with fresh sacred papers (Ami Shrine)
A row of sacred-stones (dedicated to various deities) decked-out in fresh Shimenawa sacred rope (at the Skin-Mole (IBO) Shrine in Yatabe, Tsukuba – believers pray there to remove warts, moles, or other dermatological ailments
Two-pronged daikon radish at a tiny roadside Dosojin Shrine in Miho Mura.