Merciful Eye Temple--This little champ is named Conan, and he is praying for good grades for students. Apparently, the crowd made him frisky at first, but he calmed down and properly did his 合掌 (prayer hands). Of course, there was
[original Japanese+big pic]
Here are a couple more religious stories I found interesting:
Shiga-ken--One thing about festivals in Japan is that usually a portable shrine gets pulled out. I myself have helped pull one or two down the street--next goal is battling shrines!-- but this is pretty awesome a feat: getting together about 200 guys to carry a shrine 1km into the mountains. And that final bit of stone stairs is a 45% slope!
From Fuki to Obama city--Have you ever heard the sound of a ほら貝? Here is a video of what a conch-horn of the Japanese variety sounds like (it's pretty difficult to do). Now, keep that in mind when you look at this picture. Sure the group may resemble a certain group of ill-repute in America, but these folks are doing nothing sinister; just the opposite in fact: that horn signals spring coming. Where better to announce spring than at a spring*, in an event called "the sending of the water"? They place their flaming cedar sticks in the water (2,500 people doing this, mind you) and purify it.
* Actually this one was pretty hard to read and then decide proper English terms for, so if you notice anything off, do comment.