Awashima jinja, the doll shrine in Wakayama 淡島神社
Awashima Jinja, the shrine of dolls
The Awashima Jinja Shrine houses a collection of several thousand dolls believed to bring good luck to those who come to deposit them there. Two festivals are also organized there every year: the festival of dolls and that of needles.
Dolls as far as the eye can see. If you are pediophobic, it is better to go your way, because the Shinto shrine Awashima Jinja is likely to give you cold sweats.
Throughout the year, dolls and other figurines are placed in the enclosure of this sanctuary located a stone's throw from the sea , by the Japanese in search of protection .
To go further: Japanese dolls
Protect women and pamper spirits
Built in the city of Kada, in the heart of Wakayama prefecture , this sanctuary is said to house more than a thousand. Everyone is free to come and bring an old doll and leave a little money to cover the costs of organizing the festival that takes place there every year. In Japan, dolls are known to be the intermediaries between the world of the living and that of the spirits .
Many women also come to meditate in this sanctuary which, like all those bearing the name of Awashima, is dedicated to female problems such as fertility or gynecological diseases.
The doll festival
Each year, the Hina Nagashi , literally “floating dolls”, is held there on March 3, a day which also celebrates the feast of little girls . After a ceremony of purification of the dolls, these small figurines with ebony black hair are placed on a small wooden boat which is launched out to sea before being incinerated . Thus depart evil spirits and negative things.
See also: Hina matsuri, little girls' party
But Awashima Jinja Shrine is also known for its Hari Kuyo, Needle Festival , which takes place every February 8. Used, broken or rusty needles are brought or sent to the sanctuary all year round by dressmakers, pattern makers or even by housewives practicing sewing. During the festival, they are symbolically buried under a large rock, after being covered with salt. A ceremony that aims to thank these needles for having served well throughout the year .
Still little known to travelers , the Awashima Jinja sanctuary is most often visited in peace and only in the company of a few Japanese people who have come to meditate. A good way to feel the soul of this place steeped in history.
Address, timetable & access
Timetable20 minute walk from Kada station
Access9 a.m. - 5 p.m.