Sumiyoshi Shrine; Fukuoka, Japan

A few days ago, I experienced Chinese Lunar New Year at a few different Buddhist temples here in Fukuoka. At least I think that is what was being celebrated. Today the temples were quiet, but two days ago they overflowed with celebration, hundreds if not thousands of people, most of whom were Japanese (i.e. not tourists). Honestly, it felt a bit like a tacky street parade, not what I would have expected to see at a holy place.

Today I visited Sumiyoshi Shrine in Fukuoka, or Hakata. In an earlier post I wrote that Hakata was a district within Fukuoka, but the names seem to be used interchangeably at times, as far as I can tell. The main Sumiyoshi Shrine in Japan is in Osaka; however, the one here in Fukuoka is the oldest, nearly 400 years old.

The Sumiyoshi shrines offer a place to worship to the gods and goddesses of the sea. As I understand it, it is somewhere you would go to pray for someone at sea, or before you yourself went to sea, particularly during times of war or conflict, I imagine. This particular shrine is hidden in an otherwise mundane section of the city, borderline ugly in places, so if you don`t seek it out, you might not find it, unless you happen to be wandering the streets of Fukuoka aimlessly, as I was today.