A Thousand Prayers

© Jean B. Hall

A Thousand Prayers

Uploaded: November 20, 2008


Just one of the many racks of ema at the Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto, Japan. Ema are wooden prayer tablets that you buy for a small donation at Japanese shrines and temples. (Originally, they were Shinto, but they became so popular that Buddhists adopted them too.) On one side, you write your prayers – or thanks for prayers answered – which are carried to heaven by the wind.

Ema means “picture horse.” That’s because long ago, horses were often presented as gifts to Shinto shrines. Keeping these equine offerings was pretty impractical, however. So they were replaced by large, expensive pieces of art. These were still beyond the means of most people. So over the years, ema became much smaller and cheaper.

Ema still carry a picture on one side. Sometimes it’s the traditional horse, sometimes the animal of the year in the Asian zodiac, sometimes a temple crest or some other image. (I have even seen ema with risqué pictures on the Internet.)


Nancy (Peaches) Harker November 20, 2008

Cool capture Jean! #1038721

Daniella Puente November 20, 2008

Excellent detail and what an interesting info about it Jean! #6780847

Ron McEwan November 20, 2008

Most interesting. The capture here is very well composed. Nice work Jean. #6781274

Jean B. Hall November 20, 2008

Thanks very much, Nancy, Daniella, and Ron! #6781988

Beverley Scott November 20, 2008

A great travel image, Jean, and informative explanation! #6782189

Jean B. Hall November 20, 2008

Thanks for your kind comment, Beverly. I really appreciate it. #6782251

Patti Coblentz November 21, 2008

Great image and capture, Jean...I love this! Patti #6782776

Jean B. Hall November 21, 2008

Thanks so much, Patricia. I have only taken a brief look at your gallery, but what I've seen is fabulous! Hope to return and enjoy more of your photos. #6783081

Jennifer L. Taranto November 21, 2008

that really is fascinating - what a great tradition!! wonderful details!! #6785188

Jean B. Hall November 21, 2008

Thanks so much, Jennifer. I really appreciate your supportive comments! #6785342

Lynne Morris November 21, 2008

What a fantastic find and so well captured Jean, lovely work. #6785760

Jean B. Hall November 21, 2008

Thanks very much, Lynne. I didn't know what these were called till I researched it on the Internet. I particularly liked the tablets from the 14-year-old who asked for less stress and more patience -- and from the girl who wanted to be "the world's best ballerina." #6787179

Stefania Barbier level-addict November 21, 2008

what a great find Jean, and I love the way you composed it and captured!!! #6787243

Jean B. Hall November 22, 2008

Thanks very much, Stefania! Always good to hear from you. #6789857

Marijana Fajgl November 22, 2008

What a great find and capture, Jean! Thank you for the interesting story! #6789991

Jean B. Hall November 22, 2008

Thanks, Marijana. I really appreciate your supportive comments. #6790375

Melissa McCabe November 22, 2008

Great shot! Kyoto is beautiful, isn't it? -mm #6791193

Jean B. Hall November 22, 2008

Thanks, Melissa! I love Kyoto. It's one of the top three places I've visited abroad. Been there twice and would love to go back again! #6791220

Tiia Vissak December 02, 2008

great tones, light & details! #6840284

Jean B. Hall December 02, 2008

Thanks very much, Tila. #6840294

Songbird Cline level-classic September 06, 2009

wow, this so reminds me of our trip to Okinawa to the temple where I saw these prayers. Very well done, and a great capture. #7921176

Jean B. Hall September 07, 2009

Thanks for your encouraging comments, Songbird. I loved these tablets! #7921397

Songbird Cline level-classic June 04, 2011

beautiful.. I really love the Shinto Shrines and the prayer tags! #9443943

Jean B. Hall June 04, 2011

Thanks for your kind comment, Songbird. #9444085

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