Teachers' blog


【A Most Unusual Shrine】


(Contributed by Mike)
In Canada, impromptu (即興の) shrines are often created to mourn the passing of someone killed in some sort of accident. We see this in Japan too; the accident site is a place where people can go and pray for the spirit of the victim, and leave flowers or snacks and drinks that the person who passed away may have enjoyed. This year in Toronto it has been particularly deadly for cyclists, and so seeing one of these shrines is sad, but unfortunately not uncommon.
If you use Twitter, you might have seen a most unusual shrine with the hashtag #DeadRaccoonTO. Earlier this week, a raccoon (アライグマ) was found dead on a busy street in Toronto. Raccoons are a common pest in Toronto, but seeing one dead on the street is unusual. It was reported, and usually someone is there to clean it up quickly.
No one is sure why, but for some reason, a few hours later the dead raccoon was still there. By this time, it had been reported quite often, and many hundreds of people must have passed it by on their way to work. It was so remarkable that someone soon wrote a note of condolence. Soon after, a single rose, a condolence card, and a framed picture of a raccoon appeared. By the evening, a donation box, a candles, and a marker appeared so passers-by could write a message to the dearly departed raccoon. Someone even put a cigarette in the little critter’s paw so it might enjoy one last smoke in the afterlife. Some 12 hours after it was first reported, DeadRaccoonTO was finally taken away, and I hope that he received a few kinds words before being disposed of. His sad story has seemed to have captured the imagination, sadness, and perhaps quirkiness of Toronto.
No, this is not a usual thing that happens in Toronto, and perhaps the ridiculousness that it took 12 hours to clean up is what motivated the residents of Toronto to create this impromptu shrine. But it also gave people in Toronto something to laugh about, and it makes me happy that I live in a city that can take something sad and turn it into something a little bit funny and absurd.
If you would like to see how the shrine grew over the course of the day, you can see it documented by Imgur user BeBennyG at the link below. However, please remember that it does show pictures of a dead raccoon. Many people thought this was funny and cute, but not everyone feels the same way. Please follow the link at your own discretion.

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