This small but lovely shrine is in the heart of Gion, not far from Kennin-ji. Traditionally, Yasui Konpiragu has attracted visitors seeking to begin and end relationships.
The shrine houses a famous stone marked by a large hole. It’s said that if you pass through the hole from the rear, holding an ofuda with your love’s name written on it, you will be granted true love.
Yasui Konpiragu is also special because of its incredible collection of ema, a type of wooden prayer tablet that is painted and hung outside temples throughout Japan. Traditionally painted on wood and exposed to the elements, not many have survived the ages, but here there is a large and beautiful collection. Yasui Konpiragu’s Emakan is the only museum of its kind in Japan.
Yasui Konpira-gu has become especially popular among young Japanese women who flock to the shrine to perform a ritual of crawling through a hole in a large ema-shaped stone, known as the enkiri or enmusubi stone.
The ritual is performed to pray for breaking off bad relationships and initiating good ones. Supplicants write down their wishes on a white, paper amulet (katashiro), crawl through the hole in the stone, then back through again before pinning their amulet on the megalith along with the thousands of others covering it.
Performing this ritual can break up or initiate not just human relationships but also end disease or other harmful associations.
Older amulets are gradually removed and burned.