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Historical, full-size ema

Tenmangu Shrine 太宰府天満宮 giant ema

Giant ema pavilion (絵馬堂) @ Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine (太宰府天満宮)

My retired history professor guide who took me to Dazaifu to check out Tenmangu pointed to the ceiling of this pavilion on the grounds and asked me if I knew what these items were. I did not. He then educated me on the history of the ema that are so common at shrines in Japan.

Currently, there are little wooden plaques (ema) that can be purchased for a few hundred yen to write your wishes on. Long ago, you could make a really large ema and pay a shrine to have your ema hung there. These giant ema at Tenmangu are hundreds of years old and still going strong. The owners, long since dead, have really gotten their money’s worth.

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