Traditional temple

Flush your prayers down the toilet at this unique Japanese temple

A new way to pray at the porcelain altar.

You can find many temples in Japan where people go to pray for good relationships, but there are also temples designed to help people break relationships.

▼ One of those temples where you can break bad ties is Mantokuji Temple in Gunma prefecture.

During the Edo period (1603-1868), Mantokuji was one of two convents of the Jishu sect of Buddhism, the other being Tokeiji in Kamakura, which acted as refuges where women could escape their abusive husbands.

▼ The picture below shows a woman running away from her husband, throwing her sandals through the door in order to be saved by the temple.

Tokeiji and Mantokuji were venerable temples officially recognized by the ruling Tokugawa shogunate where wives could divorce their husbandsplaying the role of what would now be considered a family court.

At a time when women were severely discriminated against, these temples were beyond their time, helping women in extraordinary ways that went against the norms of traditional society. However, the nunneries eventually disappeared, and although Tokeiji continued as a male-ruled temple after the nunnery closed, Mantokuji fell into disrepair.

Fortunately, locals have worked to restore Mantokuji to its current state, and to help keep its heritage alive, the Enkiridera Mantokuji Museum was installed in the field.

Enkiridera” Is translated by “Temple of the Tie-Cutter“, which has become something of a nickname for Mantokuji, due to his history of helping women break ties with their abusive husbands. Today, that power lives on at the temple, but these days, there are a more unique way for visitors to cut ties with bad connections.

Once people enter the building, pictured above, and pay the 200 yen ($1.39) admission fee for adults, they have the option to buy a set of papers intended to be used as prayer tabletsfor an additional 200 yen.

Because balance is the key to all relationships, the red paper allows you to make a vow of marriage or a relationship that you would like to bring into your lifewhile the black paper allows you to make a wish for a divorce or a relationship that you would like to cut from your life.

▼ The red pen is for writing your wish on the red paper and the black pen for the black paper. Do not confuse them!

Once you’ve written down your wishes, it’s time to enter the prayer area through a wooden door, which resembles the door women used to rush to the temple. Once you’re safe on the other side, you’ll see two doors, which might remind you of the men’s and women’s restrooms, and there’s a reason for that.

Why? Well, because each of these prayer rooms houses two Japanese squat toilets!

Whatever you do, DO NOT squat down and drop a hand truck into one of these receptacles – there are real toilets for that elsewhere on the premises. This toilet is for prayer only, as it is designed to receive your paper wishes and take them to the afterlife for fulfillment.

▼ Each toilet’s flush buttons (left, below) will send your prayers on their respective trips.

According to the instructions, your wish to cut ties must be placed in the white toilet, while your wish to create ties must be placed in the black toilet. Again, don’t mix them up or God knows where they’ll end up!

▼ There is a wide range of possibilities for cutting ties, with the prayer on this paper: “Goodbye single life.

Once you have gently placed your wish on the surface of the water in the appropriate toilet, wait four to five seconds to ensure the paper is completely soaked.

▼ So… rinse!

After saying good riddance to bad trash, it’s time to head to the relationship toilet.

▼ The prayer written on this paper reads: “I wish for a girlfriend”.

▼ Again, gently place the paper over the water…

▼ …and rinse!

Seeing your prayer disappear with a blush gives you a strange sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It also makes you appreciate Japanese squats in a whole new light now that they have become portals to the spiritual realm.

▼ The two prayer rooms are not separated by gender, so you can use either one – here’s what the other room looks like.

Some temples and shrines can be intimidating places that lead to unintended negative consequences, but Mantokuji’s flushing system makes the process much less intimidating and much more fun.

For many people, a fun approach like this can prove to be the crucial first step in taking a new direction in their lifeso hopefully the temple will continue to maintain these toilets as a modern version of its longstanding traditions for generations to come.

Temple Information
Ota Enkiridera Municipal Museum Mantokuji / 太田市立縁切寺満徳寺資料館
Address: Gunma-ken, Ota-shi, Tokugawacho 385-1
Open: 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (entrance until 4:30 p.m.)
Closed: Mondays (if Monday is a public holiday, the following day), New Year’s holidays (December 29 to January 3)
Admission: Adults 200 yen; Groups (20 or more) 160 yen; College students and college students free

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