Nestled in a residential area about 15 minutes away from the Iwate Prefectural Government building in Morioka is Tenmangu Shrine. Versions of this Shinto shrine can be found throughout Japan, and exist to deify the historical figure named Sugawara no Michizane, a scholar, poet, and politician of the Heian period of Japan. As a scholarly deity, people come to Tenmangu to pray to pass tests or other types of certifications. The most famous of these shinres is Dazaifu Tenmangu in Fukuoka in southern Japan, but Morioka has its own version – along with its own idiosyncratic guardian deities.

This is Agyo, with an open mouth. He represents the beginning of all things.


This is Ungyo, with a closed mouth. He represents the end.

You need both in this life.


(read right to left)

From “Agyon and Ugyoh” by Oda Hideji

Read in English here:


These two dog statues guard over Morioka Tenmangu day and night. In fact, Agyo and Ungyo are the names of any pair of guardian statues in front of a Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple. Usually they’re represented by towering swole dudes, but at Morioka Tenmangu they’re just two strange little doggos.

They were carved by a stonemason named Takahata Genjiro, who created them in 1903 as thanks after he healed from an illness. Even though these statues are more than a century old, they’d be right at home in any anime airing these days.


Caption: I…I love him…


Right next to A-Un is a resting oxen statue. If you rub its back, it means your dreams will come true. All I know is that I used today’s good-boy-pat to wish for the ILC. Here’s hoping the ILC comes to fruition soon!


Caption: I got the best fortune possible from the shrine’s fortune box, so there’s something!


These sorts of small shrines, temples, and other ancient culture can be found everywhere in Iwate, and are truly one of my favorite parts about living here. I found Tenmangu just when I was out and about running one day. (It’s a famous shrine, but I just had never heard of it…) Just think of the treasures you’ll find in Iwate one day.






コミックいわてで続きを→ (英語版)