Let's understand Buddhism before Temple >>Find TemplesBuddhism has had a profound effect on Japan and Japanese history. While Shinto is the indigenous religion of Japan, Buddhism has been in Japan for a long time. It's true that Buddhism has had a profound effect on Japan, it's also true that Japan has had a profound effect on Buddhism.
Buddhism came to Japan in the fifth century. It was originally adopted by the emperor's court, a group of educated people who the free time to meditate. Gradually, it disseminated to the general population; a group of people who didn't have much free time to meditate. Traditionally, Buddhism demands a great deal of devotion to meditation and critical thought about life. Since that didn't fit well into the life of peasants who had to toil from dawn to dusk. Eventually, a couple of religious sects formed to address this problem. Jodokyo, or Pure Land Buddhism, is one of the most important. Also called Amida Buddhism, Jodokyo holds that there is a heaven and that by reciting the Buddha's name in perfect faith, anyone can get there. Adherents of Jodo Buddhism chant, "I take refuge in Amida Buddha." Nichiren Buddhism has a long and interesting history. It focuses on the Lotus Sutra, and adherents chant, "I take refuge in the Lotus Sutra."
Buddhism also had several significant effects on Japanese politics. It became associated with the Tokugawa shogunate, which is one reason why the Meiji government enacted the shinbutsu bunri policy, which sought to separate Buddhism and Shinto.
Temples in Tokyo >>Find TemplesTemples occupy an interesting place in modern Japanese culture. Most of the time, temples and shrines are easily distinguished. Among other things shrines have large, distinctive torii gates, while temples have large iron bells. In general, temples are where Buddhist priests live, train and meditate, though everyone can visit temples to pray. When Buddhism began in India, since Buddhism involves a commitment to poverty, priests had no homes. Since India has a rainy season, places were built for them to pray during inclement weather. Modern temples evolved from those rudimentary structures.
A modern temple is comprised of a doutou and a sobou. The doutou houses objects of worship, while the sobou houses priests. The doutou is a place where artifacts and talismans from the Buddha are reverenced. Pagoda are examples of doutou. In India, a doutou originally indicated a land where monks could live. However, as Buddhism was transmitted to China, places for monks to live began to be built along side doutou. Therefore, both Chinese and Japanese temples usually have both a doutou and a sobou. Large bells are common on temple grounds as well.
The temple bell plays an important role in Japanese Buddhism. The bell is used to mark the beginning of Buddhist memorial services. On New Year's Eve in Japan, the monks ring the temple bell 108 times in the hours between the New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Ringing the bell 108 times is supposed to help people overcome the 108 human vices in the new year. Most Japanese welcome the new year hearing the sounds of temple bells from the local temple or TV.
Cemeteries are also an important feature in Japanese temples. In Jodokyo Buddhism, the dead are said to return to the place where Buddha is (i.e. heaven). Different peoples' bones are buried together in Buddhist cemeteries, sometimes called "our ancestors' garden." Temple priests recite a sutra every morning and evening in front of a statue of Buddha for the families of the dead in addition to the deceased themselves.
IMAGE Coming soon
At tombs, people usually burn incense. Incense, called senko in Japanese, is important in the commemoration of one's ancestors. Its scent is said to posse virtue which rises not only to Buddha, but also covers you, and the people around you. It spreads over everything like Buddha's mercy. Senko stays lit until the entire stick has been consumed by fire. Therefore, it also represents belief in Buddha until the last breath of this life, and also continuous effort to achieve your goals. In addition, senko has the virtue to purify unclean things.
IMAGE Coming soon
The most important part of a temple is the statue of Buddha. Actually, there are many kinds of Buddhas and as a result, which are represented differently in art. In addition, the materials used in Buddhist statues also vary greatly, using materials such as metal, stone, wood, and dried lacquer.
Even to the uninformed visitor, temples are peaceful places to visit and reflect on the mysteries of life.
>>Tokyo Sightseeing Top Page