23 November 2011 Ironic Shrines
One of the things that is both so endearing and frustrating about Japan is that it is truly a culture without irony. It is a culture that can have an official Coming of Age ceremony at Disneyland and see no irony in it at all. You know all those whacky commercials Japan is famous for? These are only possible in a country without irony, and indeed those commercials are not actually ironic, which makes them all the more amazing.
This is a small shrine I came across on a recent walk through Kyoto. The large red sign says “God of Academics”, while the two vertical black and white signs on either side say, essentially, throw money in and pray here for academic success and getting into a good school. This is all perfectly normal, but I loved the fact that the same shrine would also put up the vertical wooden sign to the far right, which says “Fortune-Telling School.”