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Ningyo-Kanshasai Frees The Spirits of Dolls at Meiji Shrine

Posted By on Oct 12, 2014


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Established in 1920, the Shinto shrine, Meiji Jingu, has captured the hearts of locals and visitors alike. With its long pebble paths and majestic size, the shrine draws visitors daily throughout the year. It is a great place to spot traditional weddings as well.IMG_5365

Meiji Shrine also hosts a variety of events throughout the year. One event, held on October 5 was Ningyo-Kanshasai.


This festival to thank dolls was held in the Honden area of the shrine. From 9am to 3pm on October 5, shrine-goers brought toys and dolls for 3000 yen per bag to be given over to the “spirit world.” During the ceremony, Shinto priests thanked the used toys for their devoted service and free their spirits.IMG_5372

Each year, shine visitors are encouraged to bring old dolls and toys for “exorcism” or being freed of their life-long service to their owners. Items are accepted during the event and are lined up along the walls of the main shrine area.IMG_5367

While the idea itself may seem a bit superstitious or strange to visitors from abroad, this year’s event had an even more eerie atmosphere. Held in the pouring rain prior to the next day’s intense typhoon, Meiji Shrine was cast in a grey gloom that made the soaked toys appear downtrodden (and often creepy). It was quite the sight for visitors unfamiliar with the custom.IMG_5371

While Meiji Shrine is a beautiful place to visit on any day, events like Ningyo-Kanshasai make visiting an even more unique experience for visitors. Before visiting the shrine, be sure to check out its homepage for event information.IMG_5389

For more information, in Japanese, on Ningyo-Kanshasai, see the event’s official website.

[posted by Nadia]

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