Sunday, May 27, 2012

Temples in Kyoto

So Kyoto is the ancient city of Japan that has been successful in preserving it's heritage through many wars and the development of the city into an industrial center for Japan.

Kyoto has over 2,000 temples in the city and they range in size from itty bitty to super enormous.  Of course, I visited the super enormous ones and let me tell you, they were impressive.  As with most things like this (think Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, pictures don't do it justice, but pictures is what I have so here we go.

First, we'll start with a little one.  This little temple was at the hotel.  There was a sweet little walking path up a hill and at the top was this adorable little shrine/temple.

 As best I can tell, a worshiper would first wash their hands and mouth and then approach the temple and pull the rope.  I don't know if that is to awaken the god or what, but many temples had these ropes.

This next temple was much bigger.  This was beautiful with the sloping roof lines and bright red/white colors.

This temple included many buildings.  This building below was for worshiping and no photo's were allowed inside.
 This too is another building within the temple complex.  Often there would be 6 buildings with one 'main' building.

 The courtyard spaces were big and gravel filled.   This is at 9am in the morning Sunday.  I bet later in the day this was filled with people.
So now onto my favorite temple.  This one was set high on the hill and I had to bike up a steep/narrow road, then walk many, many steps to get to it.  But once at the top, the view was spectacular.

 There were little statues throughout the complex and water elements also.
 It was very crowded and they were selling charms and other trinkets for worship.  Several young ladies were walking around in Kimonos and all the school groups had on uniforms.
 The worshipers would buy special tokens or coins and toss them in the various boxes.  I think they said a prayer or made a wish as they tossed the token in.
 These appear to be written prayers tied next to the shrine.
 More school groups in the courtyard of the temple area.
 I have no idea what these are, but they were everywhere in the temples.
 Here is an incense burner.   The incense had a wonderful fragrance that filled the area.  I believe people could buy an incense stick and place it in this burning pot.
 More crowds and you can see the incense rising.
 Another beautiful outbuilding.  You can see the skyline in the background giving some indication about how high above the city we were.
This was a common sight.  Here is a photo of one of many Japanese tour guides.  They all had on spiffy uniforms and a flag to help their school group identify the tour.  She stopped at each building or space and provided info.  Since it was in Japanese I couldn't eavesdrop...
 Gorgeous times two...
And next was a very sacred and historic temple.  This next one was mostly indoors with no photos allowed.
 First to go into this building we removed our shoes.  Inside were 1001 deities exactly the same and about a dozen other deities in front and lastly one large deity in the middle.  There were many serious worshipers here on their knees in front of the deities and a solemn quiet was in the building.  It was dark inside with all the deities made of dark wood.  the building was large and it took a while to walk past all 1001 of the deities.

 This temple was in the heart  of the city so in the background were hotels and office buildings.  There was a beautiful pond in the temple area with flowers and pretty rocks.  It had a very peaceful, serene atmosphere.

Lastly, I saw a whole bunch of rock idols with aprons on.  I read somewhere that women who wanted to protect their children from harm would put a woman's apron on the deity to indicate that he should be 'motherly' toward her children and protect them.  It really was sweet to see all the different places where these idols had aprons on.

Aren't they sweet?  I could see how enticing the idea of giving food or a charm to an idol if it would keep my child from harm.  No wonder there were thousands of them.

So, I've shown you all these temples and deities.  Now a little more detail about the actual religion for these.

I did a quick Wikipedia search on religion in Japan to try to understand what these temples and shrines represent.  According to Wikipedia most Japanese do not conform to one specific religion but practice forms of Shinto which is the Japanese indigenous religion.  About 85% of the population practice some form of Shinto.  Unlike the Judeo-Christian religions, Shinto does not require the same admission of faith, but instead just asks people to participate in certain aspects of it.  This religion has a respect for nature and for sacred sites.  These sites were set up to worship the sun, rock formations, trees and even sounds.  Most of the sites have both Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. 

As I close let me say this 'As for me and my house - we will serve the Lord.'   My devotion and faith in Jesus Christ is as strong as ever and as I observed these monuments to gods I was so thankful for the forgiveness of sin that my God Jesus offers me and the peace that I have because of that.  It was also encouraging for me to realize that the Gospel of Jesus is available to the people of Japan so that if they are not finding satisfaction and contentment with their religion, Christianity is available to them.

Thanks for stopping by today.  Have a great day.


Kimberly Gajewski said...

Glad that you are doing well, my friend! It sounds like you are having a fantasic time! The aprons are simply adorable! I'm learning so much! Hugs! :D

Pam said...

Beautiful temples! I love reading all this info you are sharing!