Temples are a must-see for visitors to Japan. Although rural shrines and temples are experiencing declining support in recent years, pilgrims often head to Kyoto and other religiously significant municipalities. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, famous shrines and temples like Fushimi Inari and its 10,000 gates or Kinkakuji, the golden pavilion, were crowded with tourists and other visitors.
Other noteworthy places of worship like the Great Buddha temple in Nara or Takadera temple in Kamakura are, instead, located outside of world-renowned Kyoto. Famous in their own right, they attract countless residents and tourists every year, especially during summer months or the New Year.
Nevertheless, there are over 77,000 Buddhist temples and over 80,000 Shinto shrines in Japan as of 2013. Located across the country, only a few can boast massive attractions like thousands of life-like statues of various deities or a 15 meter high Buddha. Others have a more niche appeal, and some are downright shocking to Western eyes. Why don’t we look at a few of the more eye-popping attractions open to the public?
Ryūon-ji Temple AKA Mama Kannon Fertility Temple
Fertility temples are a part of Buddhism in Japan. Sure enough, Ryūon-ji Temple, AKA Mama Kannon, is a shrine centered upon the celebration of female breasts. Established in 1492, the temple was made in honor of the female goddess Kannon, who has a 1000 arms. According to legend, a woman who was unable to breastfeed was cured after praying at the shrine.
At the fertility temple, there are numerous statues incorporating breasts and images of lactation. These symbols are believed to support healthy child-rearing. Many young pregnant women visit Mama Kannon and pray for an eventless birth, healthy lactation, and so on.
Kōkokuji Temple’s Ruriden Columbarium
We’ve featured Kōkokuji Buddhist Temple before. The temple’s Ruriden is a high-tech columbarium that is one of several modern innovations in the undertaking sector. In recent years, Japan’s graying demographics are stressing crematoriums and burial plots as the rate of deaths ticks upwards.
Ruriden resembles a traditional Buddhist burial building. However, in the inside are thousands of small altars of cremated ashes represented by neon backlit Buddhist statues. Visiting family members swipe a card and their relative’s altar flashes. The family member can then pray to it and burn incense per tradition.
Taga Fertility Shrine
We’ve featured a female-centered fertility temple. Now, it’s the guys’ turn. First, a heads up: you will need to be an adult signed into YouTube to view the explicit statues depicted in this video.
As you can see, Taga Shrine is not shy about portraying male sexual symbols. Established during the Meiji period, it is home to several erect stone statues, and even a Tanuki with exaggerated features. However, the most iconic image is easily the phallic wooden log featured in the header image of this article.
Despite the explicit images, visitors to Taga Shrine come with a respectable and straightforward motivation. They wish to pray for necessities like sound health, longevity, and fertility. Considering the presence of adult images, it’s easy to understand that Uwajima Shrine may also have aphrodisaic effects. Paired with a visit to Kanamara Matsuri, the “Festival of the Steel Phallus,” I think any aspiring father would have the basics covered.
Suzumushi Cricket Temple
Did you know crickets only live for 110 days. There are all sorts of things you can learn from visiting the Suzumushi Cricket Temple.
Located in Kyoto, as you can see, the temple exists amid a very scenic city background. Visitors are free to walk around the temple grounds, receive a fortune, drink tea, and visit with staff.
More importantly, however, prayers are offered in a room filled with chirping crickets. Rest assured, they are safely caged and not freely roaming. Interestingly, crickets do not typically chirp year-round, but the monks at Suzumushi Shrine have trained them to do so.
And finally, I’ve been told by those in the know that the temple is good for granting wishes and even inspiring amorous feelings. Perhaps this notion is based upon the founding monk’s deep appreciation for crickets’ mating call (i.e., their chirps).
Article Source: Grapee.Jp