On January 6th, I posted about my trip to see the Thousand-Year Cryptomeria of Torinokosan. There’s not just a great old shrine and a colossally old tree, though.
On the short walk from the parking lot to the shrine grounds, there is a stairway up to the left, and a sign that boasts Japan’s Largest Owl. Indeed, as you wander around the grounds, you can see many owl statues, and the shrine is nicknamed “Owl Shrine”. Of course, there is also a play on words here, something akin to “let go of your worries” or something.
But the largest owl of all, the largest owl in Japan, was at the top of those very first steps I encountered.
Beneath the owl is a spot to write a letter, describing your troubles and letting them go and praying for help with them. You then seal the letter and post it in the Owl Post that is located there. It’s not real mail, of course, it stays at the shrine. One assumes someone will offer a blessing over them before burning them.
The entire thing seems pretty tourist-trappy to me, but I guess if something like this attracts visitors who then go on to visit the shrine proper, and buy food and drink and charms and souvenirs, supporting the continued existence of this place, then it’s not so bad.