Higashi Honganji Temple in Kyoto, Japan

This was on the posts of the entrance. After I took the picture, I noticed the flower on the top is what the Koreans call the mugunwa. It is a perenial flower that symbolizes eternity. This morning, I got up and had breakfast at the hotel. It was a very Japanese style breakfast , and I decided I had to bring my camera next time to show you what they eat at breakfast. After breakfast, I left my room armed with a map. I am in Kyoto, and I know there is lots to see. It was, at one time, the capital of Japan, many, many years ago. I saw many tours you could book, but decided to find something nearby. I found Higashi Honganji Temple.This is a picture of it from the outside. It was free to enter.This is a picture of the entrance. After being in Korea, the Japanese entrance was dark and not as colorful as the Korean entrances to places like this.

Here is a picture of the courtyard as you enter.

In the middle of the courtyard, there was a dragon fountain.

This is a Buddhist bell. There were a couple of these in the courtyard.

As I got close to the building, there was a sign and plastic bags asking you to take your shoes off and put them in a bag.

When I got inside, I saw somethimg really funny. The guard was standing there asleep.

This is the Buddhist altar that was in the middle of the room. The Buddha was really dark. You could barely see him. It was not like goimg into a Korean Buddhist temple at all. In Korea, the Buddhas are often made of gold, and the wall of the temple may be lined wih golden Buddhas The Japanese temple just seemed more subdued than Korean temples.

There were signs around in Japanese telling you where you could go and not go. I knew there were many foreigners around because Kyoto is a popular tourist spot and wondered if the Japanese thought all the tourists could speak Japanese.

There was a smaller altar like this on either side of the larger altar.

I went out through a sliding door on the side that had those famous windows that are made of rice paper.

I ran into a Japanese student group on the veranda being guided by a Buddhist priest. Japanese priests also dress different than Korean priests. The Japanese dress in black, an the Koreans in gray, and the Korean priests shave their heads. Next, across the way, I heard low, slow, inaudible Buddhist chanting. I wanted to see, but all the doors were shut. I saw a couple of Japanese ladies slide one of those paper doors open from the inside and come out, so I slid the door open again and poked my head in. They were having a Buddhist worship service, and two foreigners were standing at the back watching, so I went in and shut the door behind me. I took a picture, then I thought a video for you to see and hear the chanting would be great, but a guard stopped me.

The room smelled like sandalwood insence. It smelled great! The priests at the front were chanting. They were calling the people up one by one. They went to the front and knelt in front of a low table where each burnt their insence and put it in a bowl of sand on the low table. The guard asked me to get on my knees, but I told him I could not kneel, so he brought me a chair. Every time they did something different, a priest a the front rang a bell. All the priests except one left. He got up and spoke in Japanese. He told everyone it was finished, but not to forget. He reminded them that the Japanese had been doing that for 2,000 years, and they should never forget because it is Japanese. He was preaching Japanism. Many Japanese do things just because they are Japanese, not because they actually believe. It is a very different concept from what Christianity, my religion, teaches. The priest told everyone it was time to go, so we all got up and left.

I poked around a bit more I found another smaller altar in another room, then I walked back to my room. I am resting in my room now, and it is difficult to blog on a cell phone, but I a going home tomorrow.

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