Mini 88 Temple Walk

88There are 88 small temples on one of the mountains behind Ninna-ji Temple.  These temples were built as an homage to the very famous 88 Temples on the island of Shikoku. While visiting all of the full-sized temples of Shikoku is the preferred option, the mini-pilgrimage was created for those who cannot make the journey.

The mini-pilgrimage route is built on a mountain, and so it is always open. However, there are only certain days when it is possible to collect evidence of your visit to each temple by completing a stamp book. These days are referred to as the 88-Temple Walk days, and they held once each month during  late spring into summer and fall. The Walk is sometimes canceled due to inclement weather, however, so there are often less chances to participate each year than planned. The walk is scheduled on Sundays.

The remaining 88-Temple Walk Days are as follows:

September 9th ・ October 14th ・ November 11th

To collect stamps, go to Kondo (the Main Hall of Ninna-ji) between 9-12 on the day of the walk, and purchase a stamp book for 300 yen. You will then be pointed in the direction of the hiking path. Collect stamps from each temple along the 3 km route to complete the walk.

I recommend the walk for visitors who have a lot of time to spend in Kyoto and enjoy hiking and the outdoors. No reservations are required, just come to Kondo the day of the walk and start hiking!

Upcoming Event: “Laughter & the Heart of Health”

Onishi Chijo, a lead monk here at Ninna-ji, will be giving a lecture at Omuro Kaikan Hall on June 30th at 2:00pm. The event is free but is limited to the first 150 guests, seating beings 1 hour before the lecture starts.

The talk is entitled “Warai to Kenko no Kokoro” (“Laughter & the Heart of Health).

“With failure comes laughter, and with success comes profound emotion. Life is fun because there are things we cannot do.”

See the front and back of the flyer for more information. The lecture will be in Japanese.

Spring Ikebana Exhibition

Ninna-ji is the iemoto (head school) of the Omuro School of flower arrangement. Every year students and teachers display arrangements all throughout Goten. Here are a couple of pictures from this spring’s exhibition!

ikebanaexhibition1

Two very gorgeous and impressive arrangements on display in the entrance to Goten.

ikebanaexhibition3

Rooms that are usually off-limits to visitors are opened up and filled with flower arrangements.

ikebanaexhibition2

There are many kinds of flowers and both classical and free-form styles on display every year! If you are in Kyoto next spring, keep this exhibition in mind!

Festival Pictures Part 1

Here are a few photos of the festival on October 16th for your viewing pleasure! These are pictures of the prelude to the main event. Check back next week for pictures of the mikoshi being brought into the South Garden!

Chokushi Gate

The intricate carving and decorations on the opened Chokushi Gate.

Small Mikoshi

Visitors to the temple admire a small mikoshi while a lion dance (shishimai in Japanese) is performed.

Playing Taiko in Front of Niō-Gate

Several large drums, taiko, were lined up in front of Niō-Gate and were played by the members of the Fukuoji Kōshin Taiko Club, members of the children’s club are shown playing above.

Special Fall Guests in Goten

Fujibakama at the Entrance to GotenFrom September until just a few days ago, visitors to to the temple were greeted by special potted plants at the entrance to Goten. These plants are called fujibakama in Japanese (the scientific name is Eupatorium fortunei), and grow in China and Japan.

Fujibakama make an appearance in the Tale of Genji, a famous novel written in Japan by Murasaki Shikibu during the 11th century. During that time, these plants were a very common sight in Kyoto. In the modern age, however, fujibakama have become an endangered species. In 2007, the Fujibakama Project was started to reintroduce fujibakama to the scenery of Kyoto. While the official project has since come to an end, potted fujibakama are still brought to a variety of locations around the city just in time for the flowers to come into bloom.

The once the fujibakama bloomed, the flowers attracted several varieties of butterflies and were enjoyed by visitors and all of us at the temple, too! I hope to see them at Ninna-ji and around Kyoto again next year!

CIMG1074

Festival this Sunday!

CIMG1094

This is the view looking from the inside out of Nio Gate, as you can see preparations for Fukuōji Shrine’s annual October festival have begun! The long staff center in the picture is called a “kenboko,” this kenboko (along with others, I believe!) will be carried during the parade this Sunday. Kenboko are very long and quite heavy, it takes skill and practice to carry them during the procession. You can also see two very long bamboo stalks that have been placed on either side of the road across the street. You can see more of these bamboo stalks placed along the parade route.

The parade originates at Fukuōji Shrine Sunday morning and after winding through the neighborhood, ends here at Ninna-ji. When the procession arrives at the temple in the afternoon, the mikoshi will be carried into the temple (up the stairs at Nio Gate!) and into the South Garden through the Chokushi Gate.

CIMG1095