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Light a candle for the Sake God!

One rainy afternoon in June, I was catching the Enoden near Fujisawa on the way back from a meeting. Looking at the beautiful posters saturated with colors all around the station promoting the ajisai or hydrangea season, I thought to stop by Kamakura rather than going straight back to Fujisawa. From Gokurakuji, I took a leisurely stroll to Hasedera, one of the temples in Kamakura famous for its beautiful ajisai garden during this season.

As I usually do when I go to Hasedera, I visited Benten-kutsu a cave where they have Benten statue and sixteen carved dōshi the messengers or followers of Benten on the rock wall. Only this time, I learned that each of the sixteen dōshi represented something, like clothes, wealth, food, or animals. As often seen at other temples or shrines, visitors buy a candle for 100 or 200 yen depending on the size, put their name on it, make a wish, then place the lighted candle in front of the statue related to their wish, hoping the dōshi will make it come true true. For example, I read a blog comment from a woman who wanted to find a very nice kimono, so she lit a candle for the kimono dōshi, then right after that she found the perfect one!

I normally do not do any of the candle stuff, plaque stuff, or fortune telling papers. So, I passed right through the entrance where they sell candles and walked by a statue in deeper shadow, when out of curiosity, I paused to take a look at what this poor god without any light represented. “Oh my god, this one is for sake!” I screamed, then quickly glanced at the next one with a few candle lights that was marked as the silk worm dōshi. Sake vs. silk worm? Without any hesitation, I definitely sided with sake guy and suddenly, I felt this urge to pay my proper respects to this shusen dōshi. I ran back to the entrance and paid 200 yen for a large-size candle.

Shusen doshi-sake godShusen doshi-sake god

No, I did not make a wish. I am quite content with my sake karma. But, if you visit Hasedera, please light a candle for the sixth statue, the shusen dōshi. He deserves it.

List of god
List of 16 messengers at Benten-kutsu, Hasedera

ajisai at hasedera
near gokurakuji in Kamakura
Kamakura & ajisai


3 Responses to “Light a candle for the Sake God!”

  1. I am so there. Before I leave Japan, I will make a wish. I am NOT content with my sake karma.

    Posted by Jocelyn | June 29, 2008, 2:22 pm
  2. Hi Jocelyn! It’s already July!!!!Instead of sake, local bbq and pies also sound good, though. We will miss you here, but maybe sake santa is going to be at your doorstep sooner than you think… Take care!

    Posted by et-chan | July 1, 2008, 3:00 pm
  3. How lovely! I’m not religious either, but I fully support your decision. I’m pretty satisfied with my sake karma, I suppose, but it never hurts to do something nice for the sake god!

    Posted by Melinda | July 8, 2008, 10:17 am

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