The 1,286 year old Kanda Shrine, commonly known as Kanda Myojin, enshrines the guardian deities for 108 Tokyo neighbourhoods. Prayers to the dieties enshrined at Kanda Myojin are made for prosperity and success in business and protection against accidents and disasters. Even for your technology.
So did I take the opportunity to have my beloved electronics blessed by an ancient temple whilst visiting Japan, I hear you ask? Um, yes. Of course I did.
Entering the grounds of the shrine, the mood was far less solemn that I had anticipated. There was a miniature horse to take photos with. There was even ice cream. The ice cream was delicious.
On one side there was a lineup to purchase different kinds of blessings, which you are prohibited to take photos of (until you buy one). The "It Blessing" (pictured) was one of the most expensive, at 10,000 Yen. I realised at the time it's probably because it is a novelty tourist item for saps like me who think it's cool to have their smartphone blessed.
I had absolutely no problem with this. I wanted by Fitbit protected from harm, I'm in a weekday step challenge and kicking serious butt. I want my IT blessing.
While engaging in any spiritual or religious practice you are unfamiliar with can be overwhelming, the Kanda Myojin takes care of curious tourists by plastering laminated "How to worship at a Shinto shrine" (in five easy steps) instructions at every turn.
1. First, proceed to the front of the shrine and straighten your posture. 2. Keep your back flat, and bend forward by 90 degrtees freom the waist in worship. Make a bow twice in this manner. 3. Join your hands at the level of your chest, and slightly slide your right fingertips forward. 4. Open your hands to your shoulder width, clap your hands twice, and join your hands together agin with the fingertips kept together. 5. Finally, make a bow once more in worship.
Got it? Good. It's time to get your tech blessed. Reaching the front of the queue the chanting becomes more audible. Inside the shrine (where you're not allowed to enter), there are devotees to the deities producing gorgeous harmonies as you lay down your Surface on the bench outside, along with your pre-purchased blessing trinket.
Claps and bows completed, there's a moment of reflection as I walk away from the shrine. This feels strange, but strangely peaceful.
There's such a disconnect these days between spirituality needing to be an "ancient" thing and the world of technology I spend my daily life in. There's almost a tendency to feel like the merging of the two is in someway disrespectful. I felt pretty good about my newly blessed tech.
Time will tell if the protection comes to fruition. Or maybe it already has? (I haven't cracked the screen on my Galaxy so far)...