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A Tall Tale of Temples and a Thousand Toriis.

sunny 29 °C

Long, long ago, before the shoguns and samurais ruled this ancient land, much of the power lay in the hands of the priests. Things have changed, but old habits are hard to kick and a sizeable chunk of the population still pays homage at Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.

Despite numerous explanations by our friend Trudy as to why these two beliefs are not religions and that there is nothing contradictory about people worshipping both – we have to admit that we don’t really get it. But we love the incredible wooden architecture that both sides have created in the past millennium. Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines seem to co-exist amicably in Japan by carving up the cycle of life between them. The Shintos take responsibility for births and marriages while the Buddhists look after the dying and burying end of things. This Buddhist graveyard is in the heart of Tokyo…
The wooden staves, (tobha) bearing prayers for the dead are placed on the gravestones by relatives. Children’s graves are marked by carved statues called, Jizo, which are topped with little red hats…
At the entrance to every Shinto shrine is a brightly painted gate called a torii and some of them are simply enormous like this one at the Heianjingu shrine in Kyoto…
Sometimes more than one gate is erected in order to herald the importance of a particular shrine. However is is difficult to understand why the elders of the Fushimi inari-taisha shrine in Kyoto believed their creation was so special that it should be approached through an avenue of a thousand torii gates…
It takes well over an hour to walk through this colonnade to reach the shrine so, not to be outdone, the Buddhists built the enormous Hongwangi Jodo Shinshu temple nearby, (where 2,000 congregants can worship at the same time), and the largest wooden structure in the world at the Todaiji temple in Nara…
This is the great Buddha which stands more than fifty feet high in the Todaiji temple. It was cast from several hundred tons of bronze in 752 AD and has survived several major fires and a devastating earthquake…
The Todaiji temple is is one of the most visited sites in Japan and is always packed with tourists
...so we were lucky that we had our people-free camera with us…
We have already lost count of the number of temples and shrines that we have visited on this trip and could spend the rest of our time here taking off our shoes, but Kyoto has so much to offer that we have to turn to the secular side. Next stop – the beautiful gardens of the Shugakuin imperial villa built for retired Emperor Gomizuno’o in 1655.

Posted by Hawkson 00:27 Archived in Japan

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Happy First Day of Oct.
Such a delight following the journey with you three.
Much Love - 'May Every Step continue be a Prayer' (where 'prayer' has nothing to do with Religion) xo

by Gabriole

Happy birthday, Sheila.
Thank you all for this fascinating insight into life in Japan and the beautiful photos. I wish I was there too, but will have to be content with the Japanese gallery at the V&A museum in London.
Love H

by Heather M-T

glad to know you folks are safe and away from the volcano!

by Jenna

It amazes me how clean and painted everything is. and where does the money come from to build all these things? While you are traveling around I have been reading a lot of books. it is interesting how much I can read and also get done now I have cancelled my TV love jean

by Jean McLaren

Happy birthday Sheila. I am so happy that you are doing all this travelling for us armchair travellers.

by The Vickerage

And more happy birthday wishes, Sheila. A special Kyoto dinner to celebrate?

by R and B

Feliz compleanos Sheila ... May this journey around the sun... and globe be the happiest and healthiest yet. Besos y abrasos Catherine

by Catherine

Lovely. Jim I am sure you will have way too many ideas for the studio. I expect to walk through a gate to Sheila's new studio, not a colonnade. Happy Birthday Shelia.
Love to all of you.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Now Sheila is a girl who knows how to celebrate a birthday....the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow one year, Buddhist/Shinto temples the next! Happy Birthday, dear friend...love to you both

by Sharron

Gotanjoubi omedetou!! Happy Birthday Sheila. Great photos, adventures (thankfully not of the volcanic kind) and fooood. I hope it does whet your appetite for a re-visit.
xx, pam

by Pam Asquith

Well Sheila, you sure know how to celebrate your birthday with style.
Have a great one and say hi to your other half.
Love Pat and Jenna

by Jenna

Great spot for a birthday. Trust the beer flowed as your happy party of fellow travelers raised toasts to you. No doubt you've met the temple deer who will bow to you in return for Osenbei, Japanese cookies. Love those clear skies of the Kyoto autumn. Fabulous light for your great photos.

by Tom

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