Kyoto shrine shows off big heart this Valentine's Day

February 12, 2013

By KOTA HATACHI/ Staff Writer

KYOTO--A shrine known for its god of matchmaking is bound to be a big hit with love-struck couples this Valentine's Day, thanks to a huge heart-shaped tablet that greets visitors.

The Nonomiya Shrine in the city's Ukyo Ward is perennially popular with couples hoping to tie the knot, especially as Feb. 14 draws near.

Takeyuki Taira, a junior at Kyoto Saga University of Arts, dedicated the votive tablet--measuring 1.2 meters by 1.3 meters--to the shrine on Feb. 10. He had worked on it since September as part of a community project.

Taira created the piece from Nonomiya bamboo, which grows close by, and traditional Japanese "washi" paper, to depict hollyhock leaves, the shrine's crest.

The shrine is mentioned in the "Tale of Genji" written by the Japanese noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu in the Heian Period (794-1185). The work, sometimes called the world's first novel, centers on the life and loves of Hikaru Genji, a man born of high rank.

Visitors to the shrine are having their snapshots taken with the tablet and offering a prayer afterward. It will be displayed through Feb. 28.

The shrine sells miniature wooden tablets, priced at 500 yen ($5) apiece, to help visitors find success in love.

By KOTA HATACHI/ Staff Writer
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Visitors with the heart-shaped votive tablet at Kyoto's Nonomiya Shrine, which is known for its god of matchmaking (Kota Hatachi)

Visitors with the heart-shaped votive tablet at Kyoto's Nonomiya Shrine, which is known for its god of matchmaking (Kota Hatachi)

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  • Visitors with the heart-shaped votive tablet at Kyoto's Nonomiya Shrine, which is known for its god of matchmaking (Kota Hatachi)

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