KYOTO--With its more than 1,000-year-old history, this ancient capital has numerous sacred treasures that are rarely unveiled for public viewing.
However, centuries-old masterpieces from the city’s temples and shrines will go on display from April 26 through May 6, many for the first time.
Nineteen temples and shrines dotted throughout Kyoto and the nearby city of Yawata are holding special viewings of cultural assets which are usually off-limits to the public.
The semiannual event is organized by the Kyoto Heritage Preservation Association, comprising 360 or so temples and shrines with cultural properties, in cooperation with The Asahi Shimbun.
The entrance fees will be used for conservation work and to fund the setting up of a digital archive of the treasures.
Special public viewing of cultural assets
Duration: April 26 (Fri) to May 6 (Mon)
(Viewing starts on April 27 for Hyakumanben Chionji temple, only)
Viewing hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (final admission)
Fee per venue: Adults 800 yen ($8), junior high school and high school students 400 yen
(For Toji temple, high school students 700 yen, junior high school students and younger 500 yen)
For more details, visit the official website (Japanese only) at (http://www.kobunka.com/hikoukai2013har.html).
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1. Kamigamo Jinja shrine
This is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Kyoto. The “Honden” main shrine (where the deity is enshrined) and the “Gonden” (temporary site where the deity was enshrined while the main shrine was being built), both designated national treasures, will be open to the public. Stroll through the Shokeien garden that houses a yin-yang stone. Touching it is supposed to make wishes come true.
2. Daitokuji temple
The temple’s “Hojo” (residence of the temple’s chief priests) was constructed in 1635, and is a national treasure. The exquisite paintings on the 83 sliding doors inside the Hojo were all executed by Kano Tanyu (1602-1674), one of the foremost artists of the Kyoto-based Kano School. Each is designated an important cultural property. The garden is a representative example of “karesansui”--dry landscape gardens--from the early Edo Period (1603-1867).
3. Shinjuan temple
The temple was founded in the 15th century by Zen monk Ikkyu. The “Hojo” is designated an important cultural property, and contains sliding doors with paintings by Hasegawa Tohaku and Soga Jasoku, which are also important cultural properties. The Tsusenin building houses other artwork, including a painted sliding door by Kano Motonobu of the Kano School.
4. Shimogamo Jinja shrine
The two east and west “Honden” main shrines are designated national treasures. The “Ooidono” hall was used to prepare food offerings for deities. The Ooidono hall is an important cultural property, which will be open to the public along with the Mitsui Shrine.
5. Ninnaji temple
The temple’s main hall, “Kondo” is a national treasure. Originally, it was the Shishinden ceremonial hall of the Imperial Palace, which was constructed in 1613, then moved to Ninnaji temple. The temple’s “Kyozo,” a storehouse for volumes of sutra, is listed as an important cultural property.
6. Hyakumanben Chionji temple
The wooden standing statue of Amida Nyorai "Mokuzo Amida Nyorai Ritsuzo” will be on display. This has been identified as the work of acclaimed “Busshi” (sculptor of Buddha statues) Kaikei from the early Kamakura Period (1192-1333). Also on display will be the final work of late 13th century Chinese painter Yan Hui. Called the “Gama Tekkai Zu,” it depicts a pair of Taoist immortals and is listed as an important cultural property.
7. Daikoji temple
Legend has it that Ashikaga Takauji (1305-1358), the founder of the Muromachi Shogunate (1336-1573), had this statue of the Chinese warlord Guan Yu brought over from China and carried it with him as a protective deity. Other treasures going on display include the “Junishinsho Zo,” or statues of Twelve Divine Generals, and the temple’s principal object of worship, the seated Yakushi Nyorai “Honzon Yakushi Nyorai Zazo.”
8. Saihoji temple
The principal object of worship here is the seated Amida Nyorai “Honzon Amida Nyorai Zazo,” which is listed as an important cultural property. Most notable is its halo consisting of some 3,500 “Kebutsu,” or small Buddhist images. It is believed that the Amida Nyorai was handed down by Hoshoji temple, which was established during the reign of Emperor Shirakawa (1053-1129).
9. Tokujomyoin temple
This nunnery was established as a branch temple of Zenkoji temple in Nagano Prefecture. Visitors can take part in the “Kaidan Meguri,” a walk through the underground corridor running under the “Hondo” main hall, in pitch black darkness. The challenge is to find and touch the key placed beneath the sacred image: the “Ikko Sanzon Amida Nyorai,” a triad of Amida Buddha images sharing one halo, which promises a connection with the Amida Nyorai.
10. Daitoin temple
On display are “Yurei Zu,” a painting of a ghost with no legs by 18th century artist Maruyama Okyo, and “Akae Junishi Shijin Kyomon Zara,” an ornate enameled plate decorated with images of the Chinese zodiac and four divine beasts, which is designated as an important artwork. The plate is the work of Okuda Eisen (1753-1811), a potter known as the founder of “Kyo-yaki” Kyoto-style decorative ceramics.
11. Matsunoo Taisha shrine
Nearest Station: Hankyu Matuo Station
The “Honden” main shrine was established in 1397, and is designated an important cultural property. The shrine has an extended roof on both front and back sides, a rare design. The style of “ryonagare-zukuri” is also called “Matsunoo-zukuri,” or Matsunoo-style. The “Homotsukan” treasure hall and the garden will also be open to the public.
12. Gojuno-to (five-storied pagoda) of Toji temple
The temple will allow access to the interior of the five-storied pagoda (Gojuno-to), which was rebuilt in 1644 with donations by the shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604- 1651). The pagoda’s central pillar is a representation of the “Dainichi Nyorai” Buddha, and is surrounded by the four Buddhas of the Diamond Realm and eight Bosatsu deities.
13. Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine
Nearest Station: JR Inari Station/ Keihan Electric Railway, Fushimi-Inari Station
Fushimi Inari Taisha is the central shrine for the 30,000 Inari shrines across Japan. The “Ochaya” teahouse, granted a license to operate in 1641, is listed as an important cultural property. The construction style embodies the transition process from the “shoin-zukuri” style of traditional residential architectural to the more elegant and elaborate “sukiya-zukuri” style of building. Also on show will be “Ontaka Zu,” a falcon painted on a sliding door, by woodblock printer and painter Shiko Munakata (1903-1975).
14. Anrakujuin temple
Nearest Station: Takeda (subway) Station/ Kintetsu Takeda Station
Anrakujuin was established by retired Emperor Toba in 1137 in Toba Rikyu (Toba Detached Palace). The principal object of worship is a seated wooden statue of Amida Nyorai (Honzon Amida Nyorai Zazo), listed as an important cultural property. The statue served as the emperor’s personal protective deity and has retained its luster for close to 900 years.
15. Jonangu shrine
The area occupied by the shrine used to serve as the Toba Detached Palace. On show will be an image depicting the accession to the throne of Emperor Kokaku (1771-1840), also known as Kokaku Tenno Sokui Ezu. During his reign, in the latter Edo Period, Kokaku was instrumental in reviving ceremonies from the old imperial court.
Also on show will be an image of a gold brocade imperial banner from the end of the Edo Period, and an image of the “Battle of Toba-Fushimi” fought in 1868.
16. Gokonomiya Jinja shrine
Nearest Station: Keihan Railway, Fushimi-Momoyama Station/ Kintetsu, Momoyama Goryo-mae Station
The “Honden” was built in 1605 by Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) the first Tokugawa shogun. The vividly colored interior walls were restored to their original rich palette in 1994. This will be the first public viewing in 19 years. The garden is associated with Kobori Enshu (1579-1647), a master of tea, architecture and garden design.
17. Chokenji temple
Nearest Station: Keihan Railway, Chushojima Station
The principal object of worship is the almighty “Happi Benzaiten,” a goddess with eight arms who is said to satisfy every wish. The statue is rarely on public view. This viewing will be the first in 12 years. Also on show will be the “Ugajinsho Zo,” a statue of the god of harvests and fertility, depicted with the face of an old man atop the body of a coiled snake.
18. Jinnoji temple
Nearest Station: Keihan Railway, Yawatashi Station
Its seated image of Buddhist priest Gyokyo “Gkyokyo Risshi Zazo” is an important cultural property. Gyokyo had a vision of an oracle which led to the building of Iwashimizu Hachimangu shrine at the present location. A priest’s “kesa” stole made from clothes granted by the shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (1646-1709) will also be shown.
19. Iwashimizu Hachimangu shrine
Nearest Station: Cable car from Keihan Railway, Yawatashi Station,
The shrine was built in 860 after Buddhist priest Gyokyo had a vision to relocate from the Usa Hachimangu Shrine in Oita Prefecture. Just 20 years ago, a seated statue of a goddess was discovered inside a storage house in the shrine grounds, which will be displayed with letters from feudal warlords Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-98).
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