They certainly look harmless.
A PRIEST on the left, and an actor dressed as a GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL from the very OLD days of Japan.
Here we see them sitting around and playing the game of "GO", while colluding as guardians and protectors of the stone-age religious "faith" that says half the population of the planet --- all of the the WOMEN, that is --- are ritually impure human beings because they menstruate.
One look at their goofy hats, and you KNOW you never have to take them, or their petty little "women-are-impure" religious doctrines seriously again.
Just enjoy the architecture of their Shrines and Torii gates --- and, if you are a "Goofy Hat Freak", you can enjoy the religion on that level, too !
But for anything more, remember that appreciating SHINTO is like enjoying fried chicken at a Baptist "pot luck" dinner --- you EAT THE MEAT and SPIT OUT THE BONES.
Never forget that these fellows and their little "creeds" were a major force in getting the Japanese populace to see themselves (the men, at least) as the "Supreme Race of the World", which formed the backbone and psyche of Japan's Militaristic rise during the first half of the 20th Century. Shinto had it's inbred tentacles (and testicles, too) putting its stamp of approval on the forceful take-over of most of the countries of Asia, and finally the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
They have never "repented" of their ways, and today, at YASUKUNI SHRINE, the Shintoists put on a great multimedia presentation that paints Japan's attempted take-over of the world (read : Nazis of the Far East) as a good and righteous thing, and that America, China, and the rest of Asia was WRONG in their attempts to stop Japan from fulfilling their manifest destiny as the cruel and heartless rulers of (at least) ALL ASIA.
Further, Japanese Shinto, in collusion with Sumo, makes sure that EVEN TODAY there is NO professional recognition of WOMEN'S SUMO --- because women menstruate. For some odd reason, their petty little "gods" of nature seem to frown on......nature.
Speaking of GOOFY HATS, don't think I'm letting the ZEN BUDDHISTS off the hook here, either : www.flickr.com/photos/24443965@N08/sets/72157604414628141/
Now that we've got THAT out of the way, on to more pleasant scenes of old Japan......
日下部 金兵衛 (1841 - 1934)