japanalogue 4 – wishes from harajuku

16 Jun

This post will be image heavy.  Just warning ya’ll.

I’m home now.  It’s a nice feeling.  The morning was spent eating hamburgers and napping, and marveling at how much room there is here.  If I wanted to, I could go out in the back yard and roll around naked in the field, screaming obscenities and being utterly impolite.



On Sunday we went to Harajuku. After some shopping (socks!  lacey padded specially made for high heels SOCKS!) we took a walk down to the Meiji Shrine.  It was the first shrine/temple I had visited in Japan, partially because I was eager to avoid the really touristy spots.  Rather, I was more excited to see Japan as it is now, to experience modern life as the people live it, to uderstand their customs and interests, rather than indulging in an image of Japan that the rest of the world holds.

But…uh…it turns out that the image the rest of the world has is pretty reasonable.  The Japanese folks sure do like their shrines and temples.

I honestly didn’t take much time exploring the Meiji Shrine at large.  I was focused on the wishes.  It’s tradition for visitors to purchase small wooden plaques for a hundred yen (roughly a dollar) and write their hopes and dreams on them.  They hang the plaques and hope that the gods of the shrine answer their prayers.

These prayers were so surprising and touching that I ended up taking forty seven pictures of wishes.  They ranged from the sad to the humorous to the inspiring, and had every language I could name. Rather than try to describe them further, here are as many as are intelligible.

Japan 035

Japan 037

Japan 038

Japan 039

Japan 040

Japan 041

Japan 042

Japan 043

Japan 044

Japan 045

Japan 046

Japan 049

Japan 051

Japan 052

Japan 054

Japan 056

Japan 063

Japan 065

Japan 066

Japan 068

Japan 069

Japan 071

Japan 074

Japan 075

Japan 076

Japan 079

Japan 080

There you go.  Any favorites?  If anyone is able to provide translation, feel free to do so in the comments!


Posted by on June 16, 2009 in Life


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16 responses to “japanalogue 4 – wishes from harajuku

  1. Jena

    June 16, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    In the French one:

    I wish good health to all my relatives and friends.

    I wish to have beautiful children with the love of my life (literally the woman of my life) Jade.

    I wish Jull (something illegible) in his (or her) endeavors in Australia.

    And that all my endeavors are (something I don’t know/can’t read).

    • saturdayjane

      June 17, 2009 at 11:32 am

      Thanks for the translation! That’s elucidating!

  2. Sal

    June 17, 2009 at 7:37 am

    I love practices like this. Magic spells that people don’t even realize are spells.

    • saturdayjane

      June 17, 2009 at 11:31 am

      Heh! They don’t count as ‘spells’ if they’re listed as ‘prayers’. Didn’t you hear? 😉

  3. James

    June 17, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Welcome home!

    The one that has TANKGNA and BAITONG at the top has one line in Japanese: “I wish everyone will always be happy.”

    I believe the one with FIGHT in the background is specifically addressed to a “Kiyo”. It says,
    “From here on out, keep trying your hardest!
    Take on anything at a dead sprint
    I’ll always love you <3"

    The last one is clever: the large person at the start is in the shape of the character for big. It says simply, "I want to grow big!"

    I loved going to visit shrines and temples. Everything was always either really ornate, or humble and dilapidated.

    • saturdayjane

      June 17, 2009 at 11:31 am

      The aesthetics of the shrines and temples were very interesting. I would have rathered see a broad variety of them. I only ended up seeing a couple.

      Thanks for the translations!

  4. Vanessa

    June 17, 2009 at 8:55 am

    These are beautiful. I want to go to Japan now just so I can write one. Did you?

    • saturdayjane

      June 17, 2009 at 11:20 am

      I didn’t, though I pondered wishes quite a bit. I figured that with all of the prayers stacked ten deep (there were literally thousands!) that the gods would be busy enough. 🙂

  5. lisa

    June 17, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Aw thanks for sharing these. They were so interesting to read and look at; I lol’d at the one from the guy who left his phone number for the Asian ladies.

    I gave you an award in my blog post today–check it out. 🙂

    • saturdayjane

      June 17, 2009 at 11:18 am

      Thanks for the award, darling! That’s such a compliment! 😀

      I’m glad you enjoyed the wishes. I was tempted to try to call the guy who left his number, if one of them hadn’t been blacked out! Not to be an asian lady calling, but to tell him, “You have an excellent sense of humor!” 🙂

  6. kage

    June 17, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I love those pictures! This is what the German one says:

    I wish that my family always has luck, health, lots of happiness, harmony and a long life together. Also for the Weim family I wish to bless them with health and many sunny days.

    • saturdayjane

      June 17, 2009 at 3:55 pm

      Whoo, you speak German? Cool! Thanks for the translation. It’s nice to know what they say. 🙂

  7. Brittney

    June 17, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    These are so gorgeous. Thanks for sharing your photos of them! Man, now I want to go and read them, even though I’d kind of feel intrusive. They have that feeling of some of the sad secrets posted on post secret.
    Also I want to fill one out.

    • saturdayjane

      June 17, 2009 at 3:54 pm

      It really makes me want to start some sort of wish thing in Portland. You know? A place where people can share dreams or something.

  8. rubybastille

    June 17, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Aaaand someone got the French one covered. *slinks away*

    Those are really interesting to read/look at. The one about the car break-in was pretty funny.

    • saturdayjane

      June 17, 2009 at 7:05 pm

      Ha, I know. You have to wonder whether the gods would be like, “Vengeful prick,” or be like, “Dude, that sucks! SO granted.”


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