Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Beating poverty, literally

February 26, 2009

In the depths of what may be Japan’s worst recession ever, more than a few people feel like they have been kicked hard.

At Bimbogami Shrine, in the mountains about four hour’s drive from Tokyo, the downtrodden can hit back — literally.


I travelled to the shrine where male and female pilgrims were beating the hell out of the God of Poverty, in an age old ritual.

Under instruction from the head of the shrine, the stressed and impoverished offered a little common-man payback, using a red rod to whack the god’s wooden pillar.

The founder of the shrine, an entrepreneur who has suffered several businesses busts including an ostrich farm, says his own failures taught him the importance of perseverance in trying times.

The shrine, which gets up to 500 visitors a day, is a low-income operation for those wanting to vent their spleen at a low-income world. 

There’s another shrine in Osaka and even one in Tokyo that I haven’t visited, but bad times may indeed mean good business for the God of Poverty.

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