There are times in life when past relationships weigh us down. For whatever reason, we just can’t seem to move forward and grow away from the people we need to. For those who can’t quite seem to forget an ex or pull themselves away from a toxic friendship, there is a special place in Japan you just might want to visit.
Engiri shrines and temples are sacred spaces where the local deities provide visitors with the power and strength to cut the invisible ties between them and others. Though we do think going to an engiri temple or Shine after a breakup is a great way to cleanse and let go of the past, their purpose is not limited to romantic relationships. Engiri temples/shrines are places where we can go to cut all relationships that might be toxic, including ties to things such as bad habits and addictions.
The characters used are 縁切 (engiri).
縁 (en) can have multiple meanings, from luck or chance, to fate or destiny. In this situation, 縁 refers to the destiny of connection with another person, that there is something fated between you. The second character, 切 (giri), literally means to cut or sever. So when you go through the rituals of coming to an engiri shrine, you are choosing to sever that deep collective-conscious level of connection that brings you and someone else together.
It might sound frightening and so final, but there is not a sense or sadness or figurative death necessarily associated with these temples here. Rather, it is a way of embracing the timely end of things, moving on into a new stage in life, and giving up our bad connections/luck (悪縁, read as akuen) to make room for the other bright possibilities awaiting us. Motivations for heading to engiri shrines can range from an unforgettably bad breakup to preparing for a marriage, as clearing out the old attic of the heart makes way for important new beginnings.
Engiri shrines can be found across the country, but the absolute most famous is in Kyoto. Each year, people from all over Japan travel to Yasui Kanpiragu. The temple is well known because of the specific engiri ritual. A stone tablet with a whole in its center, covered in folded white slips of paper, can be found on the grounds of the temple. The tablet is 1.5m tall and 3 meters wide and has a crack that runs down the center that is said to collect positive energy, which the inner space of the tunnel is bathed in.
In order to complete the process of destroying bad relations and welcoming good, visitors must do the following:
First, by visiting the main part of the shrine, you receive the white slips of paper, known as katashiro.
Katashiro is said to stand in for us as our representatives to the gods in communicating prayers and hopes. Make an offering to the shrine (there is a box for deposits inside, donations of more than 100円 are requested) and receive your katashiro.
Next, write down the thing that you hope to be granted by the visit.
I need to forget all the men in my life from 2018.
No more bad relationships!
Help me cut down on the junkfood!
Whatever speaks to you. With your katashiro in hand, crawl through the front opening of the tablet. Do so slowly, contemplating and repeating your wish.
After exiting, repeat once more, this time entering from the back of the tablet and coming out through the front.
Finally, take the katashiro, and paste it to the side of the monument, any available space works. And with that, your past bad relations should be gone, and your heart and en will be available for the future. For a guide to visiting the temple including access information, please check out Yasui Kanpiragu‘s official site.
Toyokawa Inari Betsuin
While Yasui Kanpiragu is the most famous of places, engiri temples can be found all over the country. Each has its own individual rituals, and philosophies tied to the process of engiri, often influenced by the local shinto histories and relationships with local deities.
Within and around Tokyo, there are at least four engiri shrines. One of the most popular is located in Akasaka Mitsuke.
Akasaka Mitsuke is a section of Tokyo’s business district where consulting offices abound. In this center of this relatively quiet district, you will find Toyokawa Inari Betsuin, just a 5 minute walk from Exit B of Aksasaka Mitsuke Station, or from Exit 7 of Nagatacho Station.
There you’ll find the shrine, surrounded by several stone guardian dogs. It is said that these dogs protect visitors and invite good fortune while driving bad fortune out. As the temple grounds itself is quite large, you will see that a variety of deities and sacred spots can be found together. For example, Migawari-jizo,is one Buddhist guardian deity of the temple is said to have the power to relieve visitors of their burdens and suffering.
But for those who have come for the more concrete cut, the temple offers actually visitors the dual acts of engiri and enmusubi, the cutting of ties and the inviting of the formation of new ties.
By visiting Kanoo Inari Sonten (叶稲荷尊天) and offering a prayer, it’s said that immediately you will be freed from the binds you feel restricted by.
Making your offering by throwing a coin into the slatted wooden deposit box. A 5円 coin is said to be luckiest as 円(yen as in currency) and 縁 (en, as in luck) have the same pronunciation.
Bow twice, clap twice, and take a moment to offer a prayer, holding your hands together at the conclusion of the last clap keeping the head slightly bowed.
For a full English guide to Toyokawainari and a map of the grounds, visit the official site.
People who visit these “power spots” say they truly walk away feeling different, lighter, and that after cutting away all the ropes of the past, better fortune comes to them.
So what do you think? Do you believe these sorts of shrines have weight to them? Ever visited? Let us know in the comments below!