Okazaki Shrine in Kyoto was built in 794 and was dedicated to the ”kami” or Japanese Shinto deities, called Susanoo-no-Mikoto and Kushinadahime-no-Mikoto, and their many children. The deities residing at the Okazaki shrine are believed to answer prayers from couples who wish to have children. For that reason, their sacred messenger is a rabbit, an animal known for its fertility. There are many rabbit statues, carvings, figurines, and motifs around the shrine.
Okazaki Shrine is also known as ”Usagi-jinja” which means ”the rabbit’s shrine”.
The long-eared messenger rabbit is called ”Kosazuke Usagi”. The visitors go to the shrine to pray for marriage, good fortune, and fertility. The visitors pour water over the head of the bunny and rub its belly. They can also write their wishes on the wooden plaques called ”ema”, and hang them around the shrine for the gods to read.
The rabbit, in Chinese astrology, is associated with the direction of the east. During the beginning of the imperial age of Kyoto, the shrine was a compass point for the east and protected the emperor against evil or invasion.