Abandonded shrine in the woods of rural Japan

Abandonded shrine in the woods of rural Japan

Some time ago my girlfriend and I were taking a walk through the woods when I spotted something that looked like a red torii (an entrance to a shrine), in the middle of the trees.

I walked through the brush and sure enough, it was an old, red torii. I looked and saw a few more, some of them had collapsed and they were being overgrown.

I followed the line of the torii and found an old, abandoned Inari shrine. Inari is a god of business and money in Japan. Inari shrines are marked by red gates (as opposed to stone ones.) Businesses and people in Japan who want to do well make donations to inari shrines or buy a torii (archway/gate) for the shrine. Hence Inari shrines usually have several or many torii.

My girlfriend, (who is Japanese and typically superstitious), was scared of the abandoned shrine. I convinced her to come with me. When we peaked inside, in the shadows there were still two inari statues! In the dark of the collapsing shrine it was quite scary. My girlfriend wanted to run away because the two foxes in inari shrines are supposedly jealous and will break up couples.

I finally found some time, and went back to the shrine on my own to photograph it. It is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen in my life and was quite scary to go into the woods and shoot on my own, but I desperately wanted to take photos!

My girlfriend won’t even look at the photos. I left an offering of a few hundred yen at the shrine to appease any spirits that might be there just in case (even though I am officially not superstitious.)

Photos shot with my Mamiyaflex TLR on B&W film and developed myself.

The shrine with a collapsed torii

The CREEPY inari statues left inside

A view from inside the shrine of the collapsed rear portion

A ceramic bowl and the metal rattler (big jingle bell normally hung with a rope that you rattle) when praying at shrines. 

2 thoughts on “Abandonded shrine in the woods of rural Japan

    1. It was miles away from any train or bus stations and not really worth any special trip to see. But if you have a car or scooter and go out into the country and follow the small roads and interesting paths you can actually come across forgotten old little shrines surprisingly often.

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