It's not every day that manga-themed ema can be found
at a Shinto shrine -- and a rural one at that!
It looks like some of the shrine's visitors are
pretty good at drawing manga themselves!! :)
human imp that's Mei can be found in Ogimachi too :)
Unlike on my Kyoto vacation, during which I visited lots of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, I didn't visit all that many temples on my most recent Japan trip. At the same time though, it so happened that I checked out -- or at least visited the grounds of -- three Shinto shrines during my day in Shirakawa-go's Ogimachi village.
The first one, situated close to the popular scenic viewpoint on a hill, was the small shrine that I was headed to when a snake decided to slither by in front of me. The second, slightly smaller shrine also was located at the edge of the village, albeit on lower ground -- and like the first shrine, is a good place to go if you wish to feel far away from what passes as a madding crowd in Ogimachi.
The third was by far the largest of the Shinto shrines in Ogimachi -- but its size was not what I found particularly interesting about it. Rather, it was that I came across many ema there which appeared to be manga-themed along with other more conventional looking ema.
A possible reason for the existence of these ema came from a Japanese friend living in Hong Kong, who told me that she had initially been surprised to find out that her nephew had wanted very much to visit Shirakawa-go but gotto understanding why this was so when he told her that it's referenced in a popular Japanese video game!
Searching on the internet, I also found references to Shirakawa-go -- especially particular locations in Ogimachi -- having served as models for locales in an anime series called Higurashi no Naku ni. A blogger who's a fan of the series visited Ogimachi a while back and it's fun to see and compare photos of real-life scenery and anime screengrabs that he posted.
And yes, I'd love to be able to do that some day for Ponyo's hometown of Tomonoura. And ditto re making a pilgrimage to "the Totoro house" -- or, rather, the incredibly detailed, life-sized replica of the house that My Neighbor Totoro's Mei, Satsuki and their father -- and eventually, their mother too -- lived! :b