Japan Highlights: Temples and Shrines

Kinkakuji (Gold Pavilion) Temple

While in Japan, we visited many beautiful temples and shrines, especially while we were in Kyoto. The temple pictured above is the Kinkakuji (Gold Pavilion) Temple, and the outside of the building is coated with real gold. Temples like this one that are popular with tourists often charged an entry fee (generally around $5), and then had signs directing tourists on a specific route through the temple grounds.

Even on an unpleasantly hot summer day, Kinkakuji was a major tourist attraction, with masses of tourists (Japanese and foreigners alike):

Popular Tourist Attraction

Temple & Shrine Rituals

Purification Fountain

Purification Fountains: Use the water to wash your hands being careful not to put ‘used’ water back into the main fountain. (I believe you are also to rinse out your mouth, though we didn’t ever do that.)


Incense: Sticks of incense were available for purchase at most of the shrines and temples we visited. A large container holds lit sticks of incense (to put the flame out after you light the incense, don’t blow on it…wave your hand to create a breeze). Once the incense is in place, scoop the smoke up with your palm and bring it towards you.


Omikuji: Fortune slips are selected at random. If you get a bad one, tie it to a wire on the rack (or sometimes a branch on a small tree), to leave the bad luck behind. If you get a good one and want it to come true…tie it to the wire or tree.


Ema: Little pieces of wood are available to write down your wish. Afterwards, you tie it up on a bulletin-board and leave it behind, so that the wish will come true.

One Comment:

  1. Yep, the gardens are gorgeous too, and carefully maintained. (I think it was at Kinkakuji where I saw someone sweeping the moss. Japanese gardens have very clean moss.)

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