Hokora, the little shrine

Sakaguchi-san came on Sunday, his day off, to work on something that I know has been bugging him: getting the hokora (祠), our little shrine, back in place.

When we started the gabion work, Kawasaki-san disassembled and moved the shrine to the shed. There was too much chance of it being damaged by big equipment or simply being in the way of progress.

In early October, as Sakaguchi-san figured out what to do at the ends of the gabion, he built the kitchen stairs with a plan that they would lead up to a space for the shrine. But the stair project was set aside in order to work on more pressing needs before the foundations went in. I know that it has been in the back of his mind ever since. This is a man who doesn’t leave things undone.

And so it happened yesterday. I didn’t realise Sakaguchi-san would be at 555, so I was surprised when I arrived to resupply the drinks and snacks. An “I’ll be back shortly” errand became a 4 hour work session. I could not have been more delighted. I helped as best I could but it was all his doing. Sakaguchi-san even prepared salt and rice as an offering to the god.

With the jotoshiki coming up and everyone in the neighborhood invited, the hokora will be a welcome sight and perhaps a relief for some of the neighbors who do not know us. We will keep at least a veneer of tradition alive, though undoubtedly I will twist it a bit. Do you think this local god might like offerings of curry spices, art, and shiny objects?

I’d like to know exactly who’s enshrined in this hokora, but that will be a complicated deep dive best saved for another time.

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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.