- The monkey came to Japan via a silk road!?
- The legend of Nara-machi and the substitute monkey.
- You can buy them here!
The monkey came to Japan via a silk road!?
When you walk around the town of Nara, you’ll notice that there are several stuffed toy monkeys hanging in front of each house. They are called Substitute monkeys and are believed to drive off the evils of the Koshin faith. The origin of this monkey is said to have started in Dunhuang, China.
Interestingly enough, the same substitute monkey was found at an altar in Dunhuang’s stone cave. Monkeys are believed to drive off evil in China. Nara is known as the final destination of the silk road, so this monkey ended up here.
The legend of Nara-machi and the substitute monkey.
In the Koshin faith, humans have three worms in their stomach. These worms come out from their belly every 60 days when the person falls asleep on the day of Koshin to report the bad things that the person has done to the lord of the heavens. The lord will punish you for the bad that you have done. According to the legend of Nara-machi, these three worms were terrified by the monkeys grooming each other, because they thought they would be eaten by them. People started to then, hang the substitute monkey in front of their houses to drive off these worms, disease, and disaster. The number of substitute monkeys hanging in front of the house shows the number of family members and the number of wishes. It is said that dreams come true if you write them down on the monkey’s back.
You can buy them here!
You can buy them at Nara-machi museum or Naramachi Siryokan. These were hand made! They have a variety of monkeys for many different purposes.
You can even wear one to protect yourself from evil, so why not buy a small one too? You should also get them for your family members. When you buy one, write your name and wish on it and hand it over to the cashier. According to the staff at the museum, a monk will come and pray for your wishes every month.
14 Nishinoshinyacho, Nara city, Nara Pref.