The Chubu region of Japan comprises of nine prefectures, and is situated in the central part of Honshu. Across this area there are scores of incredible shrines to explore, and this guide covers some that have unique ema, otherwise known as the votive plaques used to write prayers and wishes on.
Sugo Shrine, Aichi
Sugo Shrine is located in the city of Okazaki, which was also the birthplace of the late illustrator Rune Naito. He was said to be one of the pioneers of kawaii (cute) culture, and his artwork features on the ema at this shrine which you can see in the cover photo above. Furthermore, his art has featured on buses in Okazaki, and even on a Peach aviation plane!
630-1 Koseicho, Okazaki, Aichi 444-0052
Akihasan Hongu Akiha Shrine, Shizuoka
Shizuoka's Akihasan Hongu Akiha Shrine adds a little dose of 3D to their ema – they feature a tengu, a type of creature often depicted in Japanese folk tales. The shrine is primarily known as a place for people to pray for protection against fires, but people also come here seeking luck with new building constructions, family safety, and business prosperity.
328ｰ1 Harunocho Ryoke, Tenryū Ward, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka 437-0626
Inaba Shrine, Gifu
Gifu's Inaba Shrine has an impressively long history – it was originally built in 85 AD, but moved to its present-day location in 1539. The shrine has a variety of different ema for visitors to choose from, but for the most unique (and hands-on!) approach, be sure to check out the ones that can be decorated with your own self-portrait. People come here to pray for a number of things, including safe childbirth, traffic safety, and warding off evil.
1 Chome−1 Inabadori, Gifu, 500-8043
Sanko Inari Shrine, Aichi
Sanko Inari Shrine is a popular spot for visitors to pray for relationship success and luck with matchmaking, and you'll find pink, heart-shaped ema here that you can write your hopes for love and romance on. There's also an area where you can wash your coins for some good fortune in the financial realm!
Kitakoken-41-1 Inuyama, Aichi 484-0081
Fuji Omuro Sengen Shrine, Yamanashi
As the oldest shrine in the Mount Fuji area, it's perhaps no surprise that Fuji Omuro Sengen Shrine's ema have depictions of the iconic mountain itself on them. The shrine grounds are also home to around 200 cherry trees which bloom during spring, and a festival is held to celebrate them every April.
3951 Katsuyama, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi 401-0310