The Rabbit’s God Shrine
I confess that I prefer going to Shrines to going to Temples. It is something about the Shrines that attracts me inside. So that’s the reason why every time I go to Uji I must go to Ujikami-jinja.
There are some reasons to go to Ujikami-jinja. One is that is located between Byodo-in Temple and Manpuku-ji Temple. Another reason is that if you want to go you have to cross the Uji River. You can enjoy a green tea and some Japanese sweets. Maybe you have read The Tale of Genji, and this route that goes to the Shrine appears on the book and reminds you of it.
Don’t confuse Ujikami-jinja with Uji-jinja. Both are just some meters apart. But the one I was heading for, was behind Uji-jinja. Ujikami-jinja became Wolrd Heiritage. It is the oldest shrine in Japan. However nobody knows when it was built. It is known to be built around the same year that Byodo-in Temple was built as its protector shrine.
As usual, after the big red Japanese door you know you are entering a shrine. I went to the main hall but before looking around the shrine I went to the shop inside the shrine complex. Here you can buy all typical amulets that you can find in all the shrines. But this shrine in particular has special fortune paper or Omikuji. This fortune paper comes from the inside of the figure of a rabbit. You have to pull off a small string to take the paper out, and read your fortune.
I came here 5 years ago and bought this little rabbit for my mother. Every time I woke up, I saw it in my house back in Spain. That is why I decided to come back here. To make sure that this shrine was still making those little rabbit fellas .
The shrine was being repaired. I saw some workers around the hall or Honden were they keep the image of the God. Maybe they are preparing it for the tourist season in April.
One of the special things about this shrine is the water well. It’s original from the Heian Period and still can be used to clean your hands.
The same year that I bought the little rabbit figure with the fortune paper I asked to the shrine’s priest about the meaning of the rabbit. They told me that long time ago ``Uji´´ meant ``a road of rabbits´´. The characters of the city changed but the shrine keeps the memory of the old meaning of the name of Uji.