I found these snake figurines one night in a small altar about 10 minutes’ walk from home.
Each snake is no more than about 6 or 8 cm tall but probably closer to half that height. There were quite a few of them in the little altar, which was in a park across the street from the local Shinto shrine. I’ve also seen them occasionally in religious supply shops, among the ancestor shrines and incense. I have no idea what they mean. If anyone knows, please tell me.
There were a few other altars nearby, and some really old looking stones. The shrine across the street, Sugawara Shrine is apparently quite old. There’s a plaque saying that it was visited about a thousand years ago by some luminary on his way through the area. The shrine garden is quite beautiful, complete with a small koi pond. Unfortunately, every time I’ve gone there, the light hasn’t been conducive to photography.
And yes, that is snow inside the altar. I took the photo on January 22, 2004, shortly after our first and only snowfall of the year. The snow lasted for about three days before melting away.
The snakes are more fascinating than anything else. They’re not really dreadful at all. For truly dreadful snakes you’ll have to go here.