Friday, October 5, 2012

Higashi Hongan Ji 東本願寺

Across the street from our Ryokan in Kyoto, there stood an impressive looking temple-Higashi Hongan Ji Temple.  Not having much time to explore Kyoto, we decided to get up early the following morning to go have a look before heading off to our next big destination.

The streets of Kyoto were still at six in the morning.  We walked over, slipped off our shoes and walked up the steep wooden stairs to peek inside the temple.  Beautiful chanting was drifting through the open doors.  A service was taking place.  The temple members and the Buddhist monks steady chants were lovely. 

It is especially at times such as this that wish I knew more about Buddhism.  We have learned a bit about religion in Japan, but I still feel like I know next to nothing.  I do know that the two prominent religions in Japan are Buddhism and Shintoism.  Most religious Japanese people practice both religions.

I have heard that Shintoism is the religion of life.  All celebrations including life-new life, marriages, etc.-are celebrated in the Shinto tradition.  In fact, there are no funerals held at Shinto Shrines.  Buddhism takes care of life after death.  Funerals are held at Buddhist Temples.  The cremated bodies are placed in the burial grounds that can be found at every Buddhist Temple.

If you have any good recommendations of books on this subject, please leave me a note!  
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