Having lived in Japan, temples are a part of my life. I go at the beginning of a new year or I go if i need luck for an exam or some upcoming event. I am not very religious, I don’t consider myself to be religious at all. But because I live in Japan, I have been to temples often.

I live near a small temple. Its tiny but somehow very peaceful. Not every town in Tokyo has a temple but in the prefecture of Tokyo alone there are 2,868 temples. I think this is very interesting. I have only been to a few so knowing that there are 2,868 temples under an hour away from me makes me realise how crucial temples are to Japanese culture.

(Temple and shrines. Temples are places of worship for Buddhism. Shrines are places of worship for the religion Shinto.)

On television there are some small lunch time programmes about visiting small towns and sometimes they go to small temples. During new years eve on television, they ring a massive bell inside a famous temple to mark the new beginning of a new year. So even if you don’t regularly visit temples or don’t think you should, you will definitely see a picture of one on a travel company advert. They really are everywhere. Some people who aren’t monks travel across the country to visit specific temples and shrines.

If you go to places just outside Tokyo like, Kamakura where  the entire town is covered with shrines and temples there are tourists everywhere. Some domestic tourists coming from big cities but also foreigners. And its interesting to see their reactions to seeing temples. Some foreigners look at temples and audibly say “Wow!” or some Japanese tourists take pictures every 2 seconds. Some temples run small workshops for foreigners to introduce them to temples.

Im sure if you ask anyone who lives outside Japan what first pops into their head when they think about it, a lot of them would say “temple!” or “shrine” or a few may say “monks”.

What do you think about temples and shrines?

Have you been to one?



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