Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dojoji Temple

After driving back to Kyoto city from Amanohashidate, we were dropped off at Kyoto Station.  Though the official weekend was over, we still had three days off from our Japanese classes.  This was because of the Obon Holiday. 

Instead of pouting because of missing three full days of classes (and still paying for them), we leapt at the opportunity to explore more of Japan.  From Kyoto, we got on an express train and headed south into Wakayama.  

Photo credit:
Last year while studying at Yamasa, we met a friend who happens to live in Wakayama.  She generously invited us down to visit her for a few days.  We accepted. 

Wakayama Prefecture is south of Kyoto in the central area of Japan.  It is considered to be a relatively “inaka” (rural) area.  Half of the prefecture is coastal area, the other half mountainous.  We were able to see a bit of both sides during our trip. 

One of the first places we visited was Dodoji Temple.  This temple is surrounded by interesting history and stories.  The story surrounding the Dojoji Temple is one of unrequited love.  This stop animation video from the 1970's offers a silent depiction of the story:  (Note-As I researched this story, I found a number of summaries with slight variants.  This is a simple summary in my own words.)

An old Buddhist priest, accompanied by a young Buddhist priest, stop to rest on their journey.  The daughter of the home at which they stay falls in love with the young priest.  He flees her advances and seeks refuge at Dojoji Temple. The resident priests hide him in a bell.  During her pursuit of her unrequited love, she is consumed with rage and transforms into a serpent.  When she reaches Dojoji, she senses the young priests presence within the bell and destroys him with her flames after which she drowns herself.

Pretty cheery stuff.

This story has also been famously adapted for both Noh-traditional Japanese theater, and for Kabuki-Japanese classical singing and dancing drama.  I managed to find a complete performance of the Kabuki version. 

Photo Credit:
 This link provides some more information on the different types of performances that the story has been told using. 

This photo is a good example of a typical Noh mask.  The demon face is a common image used in Japanese style tattoos.

We explored the ground of the temple and paid to go inside the museum.  The original bell does not exist any longer, but we were able to see the very impressive replica along with many other stunning images in the form of statue, painting, and textile.  It was truly fascinating.

Though a bit far removed from the typical Japanese tourist plans, I highly recommend exploring Dojoji Temple to anyone who finds themselves exploring Wakayama. 

One of the two guardians at the gate.
The main temple.
A Buddha.
Lotus flower blooming in front of the temple.

Pin It!


  1. Wakayama is a part of Japan that I would love to explore further and Dodoji Temple is one spot on my must see list. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You're welcome! Wakayama was great. Hoping to go back sometime!