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.
Tourists flock to Japan’s ancient capital of Kyoto during the cherry blossom-viewing days of spring, but equally stunning are the sights of brilliantly colored autumn leaves amidst ancient structures that have remained undisturbed for hundreds of years.
One particular temple, Rurikoin, stands on the edge of the city and is a paradise for photographers during the autumn months, as well as visitors who didn’t even know they had an artistic side yet spend hours playing with different lighting effects there. While Rurikoin is not always open for general admission from year to year, we’re in luck because this year the building will indeed open its doors for the span of one short month.
Fukuoka Prefecture is a major tourist destination in Japan, drawing people form all over the country all year round. But what’s unusual about the prefecture is that, despite its great many visitors, it doesn’t have any particularly famous sightseeing spots. Most people come for the food alone—a fact which should give you an indication of how good it is.
That’s why our reporter, Takashi Harada went in search of something worth gawking at in the otherwise wonderful land of Fukuoka and came across something that every visitor ought to see: the “World’s Largest Buddha statue” nestled deep in its mountains.
Twenty-one-year-old Patrick Schwarzenegger is currently visiting Japan with his famous mother Maria Shriver, and has so far enjoyed a dip in a traditional hot spring, faced off with a sumo wrestler and eaten enormous amounts of sushi. So far, so fun.
But he’s also come in for some heavy criticism after uploading a video of himself pranking an unsuspecting visitor to a Kyoto temple.
Maru is an eight-year-old Kishu Inu from Wakayama Prefecture, and by all reports he’s a bit of a grumpy old chap. But Maru’s cantankerousness has a little more bite to it than most guard dogs, because he also happens to be the chief priest of Yamaguchi City’s Toshunji temple!
Last month we were delighted to hear that one of Kyoto’s most famous sight-seeing spots, Kiyomizudera, has an Instagram account. The thing about Kiyomizudera though, is that it’s not really just a tourist spot, it is a functioning temple serving hundreds of people every day and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. The site’s grandeur expands past the temple itself, to the beautiful surrounding scenery and view of the Kyoto cityscape, which can be enjoyed from the temple’s location, perched atop Mt. Otowa. Even the everyday religious events around Kiyomizudera are worthy of appreciation.
With all of this in mind, the temple has come out with an official Tumblr website, which they hope will allow viewers to not only see the temple through pictures, but to really feel and embrace its atmosphere.
Japan is often praised for its ability to preserve traditional customs and architecture while still functioning as a modern society. There are few other places in the world where you can be in the middle of a buzzing metropolis, only to turn a corner and be face-to-face with a shrine that has stood for centuries. But did you know that there are actually entire prefectures that do not contain a single old temple?
Join us after the jump as we explore two such places and explain exactly why architecture that was hundreds of years old disappeared.
Kiyomizu Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Higashiyama, Kyoto. Kiyomizu, which means “pure water,” takes its name from the waterfall which runs off the nearby hillside. However, it is perhaps most famous for its grand viewing veranda, a sort of stage on tall pillars that juts out of the hillside and commands beautiful views of the surrounding area. But a single visit to Kiyomizu doesn’t do it justice – you need to see it against a backdrop of cherry blossoms in springtime, bright red leaves in the autumn, and of course there’s the yearly illuminations! Luckily for those of us who don’t live in Kyoto, Kiyomizu Temple has set up its own dedicated Instagram account, and the photos that they’ve been uploading are completely breathtaking!
Here’s a familiar saying: “In Ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped as gods; they have never forgotten this.” Certainly in Japan, cats are still given a huge amount of respect, with entire islands of moggies being given free roam to peacefully exist in their own little kitty ecosystem. Of course, things aren’t perfect, and stray and abandoned cats are a sad reality in Japan as much as they are in many other countries. But today we’re here to appreciate the happy cats of Gotanjo temple in Fukui Prefecture, who are lovingly tended to by Buddhist monks and fawned over by the adoring tourists who come to visit. You can even get a special kitty cat fortune and see what’s in store for the coming year!
Moriyama-ku is an unassuming suburb of Nagoya city, backed by mountains and surrounded by forest park, which has in its midst an extraordinary hidden gem: a Tibetan Buddhist temple!
The female chief priest at Chambalin temple was trained at the sacred Jokhang monastery in Lhasa, Tibet, and she also holds the unusual honour of being the first Japanese woman to be ordained as a Tibetan chief priest.
Hearing this, our widely-travelled writer Mr. Kurosawa grabbed his reporter’s notebook and camera and headed down to take a look at this unique cultural property – and its adjoining Tibetan café.
A few years ago, a temple called Ryohoji in Tokyo’s Hachioji district started to use moe girls – cute-sexy adolescent anime characters – to promote the temple. They put up a new sign at the entrance with moe girls explaining the temple grounds. The temple has become a minor tourist destination for pilgrimaging otaku, and is commonly known as moe-dera (“moe temple”).
Until the moe temple came along, people interested in both Buddhist iconography and youthful cartoon girls had to enjoy their two hobbies separately. But now, the clever people at Ryohoji have come up with this official moe figure of Benzaiten. Maybe they thought the goddess needed a little anime improvement…
Approaching Wat Rong Khun, Chiang Rai’s so-called White Temple, is a surreal experience. It looks like a massive sculpture of ice and snow shimmering through Thailand’s tropical heat. But that effect barely scratches the surface of the weird at this Buddhist wat, where Doraemon hangs out with the Buddha, bushes are decorated with the decapitated heads of Freddie Kruger and Pinhead, and the penalty for smoking is eternal damnation.
January 31st marked the Lunar New Year, and this is a time when many flock to temples and light incense and pray for the new year.
China News, cited by Chinascope, reported that a temple in Zhejiang Province used this opportunity to jack up prices for the chance to light the first incense. The temple reportedly charged $19,470 to light the first incense.
While religious leaders around the world struggle to connect with increasingly secular youth, there is one buddhist temple in western Tokyo that has embraced “moe,” or painfully cute anime characters, and will capitalize on its status as “Geek Mecca” by opening up a maid cafe for two days in November.
Typhoon Man-yi has been causing havoc across mainland Japan today, sweeping the length of the country and dumping torrential rains the like of which few have ever seen. Thousands of people in Western Japan have been forced to evacuate their homes, and as we can see in the following photographs, whole areas of Japan’s ancient capital city, Kyoto, have been left submerged after rivers burst their banks.
“We thought the kids would enjoy it. Looking back, we didn’t think it through enough,” said representatives of a Buddhist temple who were running a summer camp for elementary school students.
The apology came amid a flurry of complaints from parents over a game where the children were rewarded for removing articles of clothing.