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Buddhist Temple Markets


Kyoto is absolutely pervaded with Buddhist Temples, many of which can be freely entered, but others of which charge wuite high fees to present attractions from a thousand kanon to a giant dragon painting on the ceiling. This page explores a number of them which we have not already seen at Daitoku-ji or Kinaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji.

In Kyoto I have discovered a golden rule. Never follow one religion. Either have none at all, or make sure to have two and give only some of your allegiance to each. In the case of Japan there is no one religion but an ebb and flow between Shinto's polarity of life, fertility and energy and Buddhism's pole of quiescence, chastity and death. By separating the two, each person remains free from the oppression either might deliver on its own and able to give spiritually in a way which one dominant religion rapidly obliterates - thus as I have mentioned Shinto serves birth, marriage, luck, worldly fertility and cultural continuity while Buddhism serves death, enlightenment and meditative repose.

Chion-ji lies in central North East Kyoto and is a temple set in a pleasant garden which people go freely to to worship. There is also a weekly craft market held there which we visited during our stay in Kyoto.

Chion-ji main altar.

A number of monks reciting scripture in the adjoining monastery.

Here is the craft market at Chion-ji. We visited several temple markets during our stay where we found funky jewelry, fresh vegetables, sexy cups with naked geishas, little wooden men in barrels with an erection, and a monk doing wild staccato rap sutras.

Myoren-ji is another freely accessed temple lying a little further west.

There was also a rather different market at the Myoren-ji temple, which was more of a second-hand market and art gallery.

Naughty Geisha Teacups Temple Market

Naughty man with an erection in a barrel

Tengu with a naughty nose.

We have tried to spend our time doing the unexpected and concentrating on the spontaneous and accidental rather than slogging our way through the endless round of 500-800 yen temples, with varying varieties of slightly gross touristic exploitation of Buddhist excesses, like Chion-in which boasts the largest bell and temple gate in Japan and Sanjusangen-do which houses 1001 images of the 1000 armed Goddess of mercy, Kannon each of which has a different face and none of which you are allowed to photograph, although do have a postcard displaying them for all to see and I did manage to accidentally sneak into Shokoku-ji which sports a huge hall, like a bare protestant cathedral, with a famous painting of a dragon on the roof.

Shokoku-ji with its dragon painting

Chion-in Temple Gate - he largest in Japan

Shönen-ji Cat Temple

Cat trinkets and a missing kitten poster at the temple

A series of images of Kamo-gawa, the lazy river winding north-south through East Kyoto.

Looking north from the middle region.

Looking back to the south from the V-split.

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