“There are no traditions that die harder than those connected with people’s health. Many of Tokyo’s most important shrines and temples are associated with protection from disease and other hazards to a long and productive life. Suitengu is the shrine in Tokyo where women come to pray for a safe delivery and to give thanks afterward … always among them are a high proportion of pregnant women, of mothers with young children, and of newly married couples.
“Most of the pregnant women pay a call at the counter on the far side of the shrine, where they buy a haraobi, a band wound around the abdomen, made from strips of cloth hanging from the shrine’s gong [waniguchi]. This they do because on one by-now legendary occasion a long-forgotten mother-to-be did just this with excellent results.”
– Tokyo Now & Then: An Explorer’s Guide, Paul Waley, 1984