Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Shenmue Realism: Yamanose Shrine

The little shrine located in Yamanose is a familiar spot for Ryo being located just a minute away from his family home. And players of Shenmue are introduced to it early on in a cut scene where Megumi shows you the kitten whose mother was run over by Lan Di and his cohorts as they sped away in their black vehicle on "that day".

The shrine itself is a detailed example of an Inari shrine, a type of Shinto shrine found commonly through-out Japan in all sizes, from fairly small ones like in Shenmue to much larger structures. Inari (or "Inari Daimyojin" with a respectful suffix) is one of the principal deities of the Shinto religion and is the god of foxes, agriculture and industry among others.

Ryo pays a visit to Yamanose Shrine
in the evening.
I have made some comparisons below using photos I've taken of shrines in the Yokosuka area which highlight how well the details are portrayed in the game.

An Inari shrine is easily identified
by the pair of fox statues at the entrance.
A stone fox statue - no red bib on this one.
(Cats really do like to hang out at shrines.)

A banner displays the name of the shrine:
"Yamanose Inari Daimyoujin".
A tunnel of banners
and Shinto "torii" gates.

Decorative stone lantern at Yamanose Shrine.
Two lanterns outside a shrine in Yokosuka.

The offering pedestal where Ryo chooses
fish or tofu. Behind it sits a wooden box...
... which has angled slats at the top through which
coins or notes are dropped before praying.

Fried tofu is thought to be a favorite food of Japanese
foxes, so it is a often offered at Inari shrines.
Not found in Shenmue, but I would not have been surprised if it was:
a helpful summary for the prayer ritual.

A peek inside Yamansose shrine: diamond-shaped
decorations can be seen in the foreground.
These are actually paper streamers folded in a zig-zag pattern to form sacred Shinto decorations.

The shrine building at Yamanose.
A small shrine in Yokosuka.

As usual with Shenmue, the game has represented a typical small Inari shrine with great fidelity. If you have visited a Shinto or Inari shrine yourself in Japan or elsewhere, how did the Yamanose shrine in Shenmue compare?
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