Bottomless Ladles (Sokonuki Hishaku) 底抜き柄杓

In my Sept. 20 column in The Japan Times, I promised to post a pretty striking photo of a shrine in Yamanashi Prefecture where women plant bottomless ladles upright into the hillside as part of prayers for a safe and easy birth.

The shrine is called Sangoji (産宮神) and it’s near a small town called Minobu (身延町). As I explained in my column, the ladle symbolizes a wish that the child will exit the mother’s body as easily as water flows from a bottomless ladle. Here’s a closer view of the ladles, which are called sokonuki hishaku (底抜き柄杓):

For more about safe-birth prayersanzan kigan (安産祈願) – scroll down to the next post or click here.

But before you go — bottomless ladles also show up in folklore connected to a sea monster called Umi-bozu (海坊主) so I thought I’d provide a few illustrations so you know who to watch out for the next time you put out to sea.

Umibozu Edo period illustration

Whatever you do, don’t hand this guy a ladle unless you’ve removed the bottom first. See my column for full instructions.

This entry was posted in Life in Japan, What the Heck is That? and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Bottomless Ladles (Sokonuki Hishaku) 底抜き柄杓

  1. ryukyumike says:

    Love this post, photos, history, facts and folklore all in one !

  2. Lurker says:

    Creepy (I mean the sea-monster)!

  3. Pingback: How a bottomless water ladle aids your safe childbirth in Japan

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