Kyoto, which is full of tourist attractions, has many temples and shrines that everyone goes to. But there are also some other interesting spots that are well worth seeing. Below are five unique and interesting shrines and temples to visit in Kyoto.
1. The 1,200 Carved Stone Figures of Rakan at Togaku-zan Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple
This is a temple with 1,200 carved stone figures of Rakan. It is otherwise known as "The Temple of the 1,200 Rakan". “Rakan” are disciples of Buddha, and each of the 1,200 Rakan at this temple has a different expression. They were carved by worshippers over a period of ten years, starting from 1981, with the hope that the temple, which had fallen into disuse, would recover its former glory. Some are laughing, some have calm expressions, and there are even ones holding cats or cameras. Time flies when examining each Rakan, thinking about who they remind one of.
2. The Ema and Power Stone Monument at Yasui Konpiragu
This is a power spot for cutting off all bad relations and creating new ones. The ema (small wooden plaques on which Shinto worshippers write their prayers or wishes) found on the shrine grounds contain a variety of prayers, such as cutting ties with illness, gambling, or alcohol, as well as with specific personal relationships. The megalith that has a particularly impressive number of ema is the power stone monument for breaking off bad relations and initiating good ones. Write down the relations you wish to end and the ones you wish to initiate on a katashiro (substitution charm) and walk through the center of the monument while praying. It is said that the bad relations are cut off when walking from the front to the back, and the good ones are created when walking from the back to the front. The prayer is completed when you place the katashiro on the monument. This is such a popular spot that there are usually lines to walk through it. It is close to Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Yasaka Shrine, so be sure to stop by!
3. The Afro Buddha at Kurodani Konkai Komyo-ji Temple
The Buddha statue here is known to have afro-like hair. The proper name of the statue is “Goko Shiyui Amida-butsu”. It is said that the Buddha's hair grew into the shape photographed as a result of training for an incredibly long time. It is, of course, not a proper afro haircut. This is a valuable Buddha statue, of which only 16 can be found in the country. Once you've finished worshipping, go to the main shrine building and purchase some konpeito (small and spiky colored sugar candy) to take home as gifts. The konpeito are called “Afro Konpeito”, affirming that the temple also believes that the Buddha statue has an afro.
4. The Graffiti at Tanden-an Temple
Also known as "Rakugaki Dera” (graffiti temple), you can draw on the walls of this temple. There is a variety of graffiti on the white wall of the Daikokudo Hall. The rule is to "write your most important wish on its white walls using the provided pen". There must be no writing on any wall that isn’t white. This practice started when the locals helped rebuild the hall. The temple agreed to have the people who helped write their wishes on its white walls so that Daikoku, the deity for wealth, could see them. The temple is only open to the public between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, but it can be visited with reservations at other times.
5. The Torii Gate at Nishiki Tenmangu
This is a Tenmangu shrine with a strange torii gate that will leave you puzzled. It is a power spot that’s located between Shinkyogoku-dori and Teramachi-dori, which are always full of tourists. The torii gate blends so well with the town that you may not notice it, but if you see it, be sure to look up and prepare to be fascinated. The top of the torii gate is stuck into a building. If you go up to the shop on the second floor of the building, you will be able to see the protruding torii gate (note, however, that it is a business, so you should not go just to see the sight). This is a wondrous scene that you may be able to see from the outside if the curtain of the room with the torii gate happens to be open.
There are so many spots in Kyoto to see other than the major temples and shrines. This article introduced some interesting shrines and temples. Regardless of how many times you have been to Kyoto, there is always more to discover, so explore more!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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