Friday, February 04, 2011

Baseball Shrine?

No, not exactly. But I recently learned about a shrine in the northern reaches of Saitama called the 箭弓稲荷神社, or Yakyu Inari Jinja.

Now, on its own, there shouldn't be anything special in particular about a shrine to the Shinto god Inari -- there are MANY Inari shrines all over the country. You can usually spot them because they have bright orange torii, and often statues of foxes.

But this one in particular, being as the name of the area is "Yakyucho" -- yes, the kanji is different, 箭弓 vs the 野球 that means baseball -- apparently, over the years, it has become a vaguely popular place for pro players to go pray for success before the season, and especially the Seibu Lions because it's in Saitama prefecture.

(Of course, I actually read about it on the Rikkio baseball team's blog -- their team is also based out of Saitama, on the Niiza campus. They posted some photos from going there and the bat-and-plate-shaped ema, or wooden prayer boards.)

But anyway, the reason this place is even cooler is that in recent years, to embrace the fact that the city's name is a homonym for the word baseball, they sell baseball bat luck charms (mamori), and bat and plate prayer boards (ema). That's REALLY neat!

There's a shrine in Kyoto called the Shiramine Jingu, which is sort of known as a soccer shrine because the god there happens to be the god of an ancient Japanese "kickball" game of sorts, so lots of pro soccer players go there to pray, and so a bunch of my JHS students went there and told me about it. But at the time we didn't know of any baseball-related shrines. So now I do!

I'll be back in Japan for a week or two in March, and I'm going to see if I can get up to this Yakyu Jinja while I'm there, because I think it'd be really cool.

And in the meantime, I recommend reading the Tokyo Big 6 2011 blogs in general. You can learn all kinds of interesting things like how Keio's captain Hayata Itoh, aka Clutchy McClutchitude, knows Pi to 115 places. Or you can read Hosei's spastic manager Yokoyama's ramblings about Facebook and Twitter (there are many). Or you can get a lesson in Toyama regional dialect from Todai's Yohei Tachi. Or... actually, I was remiss in my updating about it, but back in December, the Meiji team posted about how third-year baseball club member Tama died in a car accident. That was pretty sad.


Anonymous said...

Can you add a face book like button?

Deanna said...


Anonymous said...


I hope that you can make it to the shrine next month - I'd love to see pictures.