We Visit Kinpusen-ji Temple in Yoshino

When traveling with Sachiho Kojima, one does not merely take walks. Given her proclivity for worship in a variety of settings, she cannot help but take you on a Sacred Sites Tour. So, we set out from the Sakoya Ryokan through the quiet streets of Yoshino village. Sachiho told me, “I have always loved old ways more than new ones. When I was a teenager, I studied tea ceremony.” Like Noh theatre, the ritual of tea elevates consciousness of even the smallest gesture.

The circular impressions in the street made the pine needles compose themselves into perfect circles.

Soon we espied the main gate of Kinpusen-ji Temple at the end of the street.

Across the quiet street from the temple gate stood an open air store selling handmade mochi which we found irresistible. I bought a piece of dark green mugwort mochi, and Sachiho bought a white one with a sweet red bean paste filling. Mugwort is the English name for the herb used for moxibustion.

Under the eaves of the main gate, two fierce and muscular Shukongoshin (guardian statues) kept all bad juju at bay…

…flashing their buff abs and formidable teeth.

Clearly this has worked well for centuries. Once inside the gate, all is serene, shaded by beautiful old trees.

The main temple hall, with its breathtaking architecture and embellishments, is said to be the second largest wooden temple in Japan, after Todai-ji in Nara.

Inside the courtyard of the temple, a sign in four languages elucidates. My camera and I are reflected in it.

We approach the main hall entrance.

At the entrance, one places coins inside the donation box, takes a few sticks of green incense, lights them all with the large votive candle, and stands them together to burn in the sandfilled stone urn at the entrance to the temple.

Another pair of fierce ancient statues guard the inner sanctuary.

A Miro-like artwork on the right hand inner wall of the temple.

The temple’s store sells photographic guide books of the artwork, and articles for worship, including handcarved prayer beads.

Outside the main temple, a lion statue, bibbed by worshippers to show respect.

Even though it’s a Buddhist temple, a Shinto Inari (fox diety) shrine also stands on the temple grounds.