Break-up Stone

Yasui Konpira-gu is a rather small a shrine in Gion and large buildings encroach it on all sides. However small, it is very famous among people from Kyoto and elsewhere. Until recently, it had an ema museum, ema being wooden tablets on which worshippers write their wishes to the gods. Unfortunately, the building where the museum was located is very old and has been considered unsafe, so the museum is closed for the time being.

However nice the museum might have been, it was never the main attraction of Yasui Konpira-gu. That title goes to the enkiri / enmusubi ishi, a large stone (purportedly in the shape of an ema, but it’s hard to tell, really) with a round hole at its base. This stone is said to help break off bad, unhealthy relationships and form new, better ones instead.

break-up stoneThe procedure is simple: First you buy a slip of paper and write your wish on it. Then you position yourself at the stone and crawl through the hole. Going front to back means to break off a relationship. Going back to front expresses a wish for a new one. Many people do both; obviously you’ll have to end a relationship before you can start a new one (at least, that’s the clean way to go about it). Finally, you glue the paper to the stone and hope that your wishes will be granted.

By the way: this does not only work for romantic relationships, although most people probably visit the shrine for this reason. A friend of mine told me that some of the papers glued to the stone read like lines from a soap opera. “I want his wife to die” is probably one of the stronger requests. But many people come to break addictions to drugs or gambling, others want to find a more satisfying job, and cutting the “relationship” with an illness for oneself or a close person are very common wishes too… The possibilities are endless!