The Nihonjinja shrine in the Kodama district in Honjo is not a famous tourist destination, particularly because of the five-minute climb upon steep stone steps just to be able to reach the compound. But lately, they’ve seen an overflow of visitors, specifically soccer fans who are praying for the success of Japan’s men’s national football team in the upcoming World Cup tournament in Brazil.
The team, more popularly known as the Samurai Blue, will be going up against Colombia, Greece and Ivory Coast in Group C to try to better their 2010 performance where they made it to the Round of 16. Japanese football fans are doing their part to help the team out by trooping to the shrine that is 80 kilometers northwest of Tokyo, according to chief priest Yoshitaka Negishi. He says there was even a whole tour bus chartered to bring people to the shrine and pray for World Cup glory. They’ve probably chosen this particular temple to offer their prayers since it is the only one in the whole of Japan that has the country’s Japanese name in its title.
But Negishi hopes that this sudden popularity will not just end with football fans and the World Cup. More than just its name, the temple has a rich history starting way back in the 8th century when legendary general Sakanoue no Tamuramaro prayed for victory before at the shrine before conquering the northern regions. It was in the 2006 World Cup that fans started choosing the shrine as the unofficial temple for prayers for football success. During the 2010 edition, the local chamber of commerce sent the team a “daruma” (good luck doll) from the shrine. They also did the same for the women’s football team, or the Nadeshiko Japan during the 2011 World Cup where Japan became the first Asian team to ever win the biggest women’s football competition.
[ via Asahi Shimbun ]
Comments Off on JDP Startup Corner: Pros & Cons of Working with a Partner in Japan