Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A visit to the Naritasan Shinshoji Temple

In February this year, my parents came to Japan to visit us. Their flight from India was to arrive early in the day. We had driven down to Narita Airport to receive them. Since it was a  Saturday morning, we decided that we would begin their Japan sightseeing tour right from the airport, provided they were not exhausted after their 9 hour flight. They seemed fresh and raring to go and we decided to go ahead with our plan. We had not decided which place to take them first and were discussing the options when we noticed a temple complex to our left. We just followed the direction of the temple and were surprised to see a huge temple complex, right next to the Airport complex! None of our friends had ever mentioned about this temple. Moreover our previous visits to this area had been either too early in the morning or late in the night and we had not noticed the temple in the darkness.

Naritasan Shinshoji is one of the three famous traditional temples in Japan’s Kanto region. This temple was founded in 940 AD by Priest Kanjo.

This huge complex consists of many buildings in various shapes and styles. We first visited the “Great Pagoda of Peace”. This pagoda was built in 1984 for World peace. 

A huge idol of Fudomyoo is seated in the main Hall called Myooden.

The hall below has a display of various artefacts , photographs and scriptures. We walked around in the Naritasan Park below for some more time. We then proceeded to the main temple complex which is a little ahead. A walking path through the Naritasan Park also leads to the Main temple complex. 

First we visited the Komyodo Hall, Gakudo Hall and few other buildings in the vicinity. A flight of steps took us down to the “Great Main Hall” which was full of worshippers. A religious ceremony “Goma” or the Sacred Fire rite was being conducted in The Main Hall. A priest was dedicating offerings to the ceremonial fires while other priests were chanting prayers. This reminded us of the Hindu religious ceremonies back home in India. We then proceeded towards the 25 m high Three Storied Pagoda which dates back to the 18th century.

The best time to visit this temple is between mid February and mid April when Apricot and Cherry blossoms are in full bloom, adding to the beauty of the temple. Apricot blossoms were beginning to blossom when we visited the temple.

Like all other tourist and religious places in Japan, there are many shops selling souvenirs and eatables outside. There is ample parking space further ahead, near the Niomon gate.

Definitely worth a visit. 

For more details visit: http://www.naritasan.or.jp  

Address: Narita city, Chiba Prefecture 286-0023

Phone: 0476-22-2111

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