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