Saturday, November 22, 2014

Japan - if you do nothing else, do this

Japan is a country with a living religion. Well, actually two, Buddhism and Shintoism. And if you were wondering, Buddhists have temples and Shinto followers have shrines. Most people will actually follow both beliefs and separate them depending upon event. Very roughly speaking, Shinto is for happy times and Buddhism is for sad. But that is a huge generalisation.

Many tourists when they come to Japan enjoy visiting some of the famous shrines and temples such as the Meiji Shrine and Zojoji Temple in Tokyo or Kyomisu and the Golden Temple in Kyoto (there's also a silver one too by the way). But almost no one will take away the one single greatest memory you can have from the visit. Photographs are one thing, but a temple book, well that's part of history. 

Temple books are small, blank, folded books you can buy for a few dollars on your first visit. And then, at each location you go to, whilst watching everyone else take photographs, you can ask the priest to inscribe your book. He'll write the date, the name of the temple and stamp it with the temple's hanko. And you will have something so much more valuable as a memory of your visit to Japan than a simple photograph. Happy temple hunting.

My temple book opened out to show some of the temples I've visited over the years.

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