【Uji】Shoujuin – Heart shaped window which brings happiness
When thinking about Buddhist temples, you may have an image of strict and serious. So do I, to be honest! However, I visited a temple, where that image completely changed, so I’d like to introduce it to you in this article.
Shoujuin – the wind chime temple
Shoujuin Temple is located in Uji-Tawara machi which is the origin place of Japanese green tea (ryokucha). On social networks, the heart-shaped window of Shoujuin has become popular and is said to be “cute”.
The history of Shoujuin is linked to the Koyasan Shingon sect about 800 years ago and was built as a tower temple of Iioyama Iiokyoji. The principal image is the eleven-faced Kannon of the secret Buddha, which is opened only once every 50 years.
In the summer, the wind chime festival, in which 2000 wind chimes are hung in the precincts, is held from July 1st to September 18th every year, so it Shouju-in also called the wind chime temple in Kyoto.
This area is famous for tea production and there was a peaceful tea plantation along the way…
It is only about 30 minutes by car from Uji Station but due to the new bypass road near Shouju-in, I had to take a different route from the in-vehicle navigation system and I got lost a little… but I managed to arrive (relieved)!
You can also come by bus, but I don’t recommend it because it’s a difficult route even for Japanese people: it’s a 10-minute walk from the last stop after connecting to the bus from Uji station.
Let’s go from the main hall first. After paying the admission fee, I was guided to the porch. It’s open and comfortable.
Shoujuin original sweets and tea were served. It’s small, but I was happy when I had a cup of tea with a quiet and relaxed feeling. I’m glad that the children are kind enough to prepare Ramune.
After visiting the main hall, let’s go to the guest hall next.
Here, there is the heart-shaped window we are looking for.
It’s a cute window, isn’t it? Since it resembles a heart, it has a very modern atmosphere, but this is called “Inome” and is one of the traditional Japanese patterns. It has been used everywhere as an architectural decoration for temples and shrines since ancient times, and it has the meaning of inviting happiness and warding off disasters.
The scenery seen from the Inome window changes with the four seasons, so I’m looking forward to coming to another season. Also, the appearance will change even during the day. The “Shiawase (happiness) no okage”(Okage has a double meaning : shade and “thanks to”) that appears when the light shines on the Inome window is wonderful.
When I went, the light was extending diagonally and long, but if the timing is right, a heart-shaped “Shiawase no okage” can be created directly in front of me. The best time in summer is from 15:00 to 16:00. There are other places in Shoujuin that are decorated with ingot patterns, so please look for them.
If you look at the ceiling from the cute Inome window, you will see a bright ceiling. It’s fun to see the 160 partitions, because all have a different pattern. It’s okay to lie down on the tatami mat, so I rolled around and looked at the ceiling painting so as not to disturb other people ♫
I thought that Shojuin is a temple with a consciousness of “hospitating visitors” unlike the temples I have visited so far. It is a cozy place where you can have tea and sweets and feel relaxed as if you were told, “Please relax and enjoy here”. Here you can lie down in the guesthouse and do things that are not allowed in a general temple.
On the other hand, because the windows and ceiling paintings are colorful and cute, I feel that this temple is aiming for “Instagram” too much, so I think it’s for people who have different tastes. It is recommended for those who are not good at serious temples and like places that look good on Instagram!
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