It’s quite normal to hear news of someone graffiting pieces of world heritage and feel a sense of outrage, but Kyoto’s Tandenan Temple actually encourages such scrawl. Our writer Masami grabbed a sharpie and went to check it out.

As she approached the temple gates, Masami couldn’t help but wonder if the rumors about Tandenan allowing people to write on its walls were really true. However, when she arrived, true enough a stone monument greeted her with a message that read: “Graffiti Temple Tandenan.”

Apparently, they’ve gotten used to incredulous visitors by now.

▼ “Rakugaki Tera” (Graffiti Temple)

Masami talked to a priest who informed her that people are allowed to write on the walls of the Daikokudo, a chamber dedicated to the god Daikoku-sama. The tradition started a few decades ago.

The head priest at the time was renovating the Daikokudo and many local people came to help. In return, he said they could write their biggest wish on the wall for Daikoku-sama to answer, and so the tradition started.

However, to avoid an aspiring Banksy from taking up all the space and prevent turf wars from erupting, the temple laid out some simple ground rules.

1 Please write your most important wish
2 Papers are also available to write your wish, name and address
3 Use only the temple’s pens to write on the walls
4 Be considerate to everyone and write in small letters
5 Don’t write beyond the walls
6 Please put the money for writing into the donation box
7 Feel free to take a pamphlet

When writing on the walls, you’re asked to donate 300 yen (US$2.60). After all, white paint doesn’t grow on trees… Don’t quote me on that, though. I’m not really sure how white paint is made.

Now that she was up to speed, Masami was ready to tag the temple with her biggest wish. It was actually really difficult to find an open space within arm’s reach. Wishes were scrawled everywhere, such as “good health,” “graduate high school,” or “meet the man of my dreams this year.”

Finding a narrow strip of white wall, Masami jotted down her biggest wish to be able to write more interesting stories for RocketNews24.

After finishing, she wondered if she maybe should have aimed a little higher with her wish to Daikoku-sama. No matter, though; once a year the temple paints over the wishes so that anyone who comes may wish anew.

So, if you have a wish or just an urge to write all over someone else’s property, why not pay a visit to Tandenan?

Tandenan (Temple)
33 Yawata Yoshino, Yawata City, Kyoto
Hours: 9:00am to 3:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays
Also open from midnight on New Year’s Day and for the first three days of the new year

Original article by Masami K.
Photos © RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]