Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Narita-san Shinsōji Temple

Niōmon Gate (1830)

An unplanned layover at Narita Airport yielded a pleasant surprise. With a whole morning free before returning to Narita Airport for an early evening flight, we took the shuttle bus from our hotel to Narita City. We walked to Narita-san Shinshō-ji Buddhist temple from the drop off point. The temple is located at the end of a busy, shop-lined street called Omotesando. It was the Setsubun Festival (in late January) and the streets in and around the temple were packed with visitors and pilgrims who, like us, were distracted by the many food stalls and enticing curio shops along the way. Setsubun is the celebration of the beginning of spring (according to the lunisolar calendar).

Three Storied Pagoda

Narita-san was founded in the year 940. It is a lead temple of the Chisan branch of the New Shingon sect of Buddhism. Some of the buildings in the complex are designated National Important Cultural Properties including the Three Storied Pagoda that dates back to 1712 and the Niōmon Gate which was built in 1830. The huge lantern hanging above the gate has been traditionally contributed by the fish market.

Issaikyo-zo

Inside Issaikyo-do Hall, this octagonal, rotating rinzō  holds an inventory of old sutras called Issaikyo-zo. Worhippers could spin this rinzō  three times to ask for their wishes to be granted in the past. This isn't allowed today in order to preserve this unique treasure. 

Ema

Ema are wooden plaques where the worshipper writes his or her prayers and wishes to the Kami spirit. They are found around the temple grounds. Visitors who wish to make an offering may also buy these plaques in the temple store

It's easy to get to Narita-san from Narita airport. The JR and Keisei lines pass through Narita City and drop off passengers at the JR East Narita Station or Keisei Narita Station. It's a short walk to the temple from these stations.

We stayed at the Nikko Hotel near the airport and there is a free shuttle that passes by the hotel to Narita City. The Nikko's rate was quite reasonable.

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Images by TravelswithCharie


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