It's the year of the Water Dragon, so another look at the guardian of the temizuya at the shinto shrine.
This shrine is called Ohira Hachimangu (大平八幡宮), a small shrine right off the old Tokaido Highway. I know that info isn't too terribly important, but it's my habit to always write down the kanji of shrines and temples I visit and later try to puzzle out the pronunciation. This time it was easy to read, but sometimes the kanji is pretty challenging!
The temizuya (手水舎) is where one is suppose to cleanse one's self before praying. Traditionally you would bow (to the dragon, I guess), clean your hands, feet, and rinse out your mouth, clean the ladle itself, then bow to the dragon once more before moving on to pray at the shrine. There is even an order to which hand and foot first if you want to get hardcore. These days most people wash their hands, and occasionally rinse their mouths, but I've never seen anyone clean their feet!
Look at this poor dragon -- he is chained up! A small chain... but a magic one, no doubt, so he can't get away.
By the way, anyone know if the dragon at the temizuya has a special name? I couldn't find any in my shinto books.