Wish upon a…



Many people in Japan go to temples with the same attitude that North Americans go to church only on Christmas and Easter. They go when it suits them, and for reasons more selfish than spiritual. That’s not to say everyone’s like that—there are still devout followers—but the majority are there at convenient times for themselves.

One of the biggest reasons to go to a temple is to make a wish (or: prayer.) Sound familiar? This picture is of a wall of wishes that people hang up, a lot of them were for good exam scores. They colour in one eye when they make the wish, and the other eye when the wish is fulfilled.

I noticed that nearly every wish had only one eye filled in. Either people are wishing for hugely improbable things, or they don’t come back to fill in the other eye when the wish is fulfilled. I think it looks better with only one eye filled in. Sort of a cool asymmetrical look that works better in a photo..


p.s., Full disclosure: I am very much a Christian, so seeing this temple was  interesting. And all the photos of shrines were accidentally deleted from my camera as I walked out of the temple… weird.


One Response to “Wish upon a…”

  1. 1 mariz

    Hey J

    I like this series you’re doing at the moment. Really inspiring me to commit this blog to print. More picutres! I love the idea of personifying a wish or prayer, although even without the religious connotation it’s still a really beautiful thing. I met this girl at the JET seminar who bought one of these things. She wished and wished she would get into the program and when she finally did she was so ecstatic to finally be able to paint that other eye in that she cried! I think she mentioned she was going to hang it over her dashboard or something! I remember coming across one of these temples at Ueno, fuck I regret not going to more parks. But there’s something really cool about collecting wishes/prayers that’s really touching. Thanks for this entry!!

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