prettily over Japanese hill and valley are set with wayside oratories and before many of them stands a gohei on its stick, sometimes quite humanly housed under a tiny shed, sometimes canopied only by the sky and the stars. Thoroughfare, field, and forest know it alike. Now it marks a quiet eddy in the tide of traffic of a bustling town, and now, the long year through, it points the bleak summit of some lonely peak that only in midsummer knows the foot of man.
Welcoming anchorite to the mountaineer, it is no less the farmer's friend. In fact it is peculiarly addicted to agriculture. When the growing rice begins to dream of the ear, it makes its appearance in the paddy-fields, stationed here and there among the crops, keeping an overseer eye upon them from the top of a tall stick.
But strangest post of all, you shall chance upon it some fine day riding in festival procession, perched in solitary grandeur upon the saddle of a richly caparisoned horse.
In short, it is omnipresent, this Shintō symbol.
Its religious significance it would be hard to overestimate. It is to Shintō what the