Kyoto Festivals - Doll burning ceremony and poet lauriate

Beautiful Kyoto – Amazing spiritual temples and shrines – We had a beautiful guide Mari from the university take us to some amazing cultural events and she also took us to a beautiful traditional tea house for lunch – the entire day was incredible and will be held in our hearts for ever.

Hokyo Ji – The treasured mirror temple – Founded about 1300

We attended one doll burning ceremony at the small temple of Hokyo Ji – a temple administered by female monks. This convent carried on the teachings of Keiaiji Temple the greatest of five convents that prospered in Kyoto before the Edo period but were abolished in the 16th century. It is a monzeki temple which means a member of the imperial family always held the position of head priest. The temple has many dolls in its possession including some that were treasured by Emperor Komei. Thus the temple became popularly known as Ningyo-dera or Temple of Dolls. Although it is not usually open to the public the temple holds special exhibitions of dolls in spring and autumn. There is a ritual performed in which dolls that are no longer needed are put to rest in a cremation. Hokyo-ji Temple, known as Kyoto’s “Doll Temple”, holds a memorial service for old dolls on this day. Dolls are piled up and burned while sutras are chanted. We were informed that this helps their spirit to go to a better place as the orphaned doll can become very angry – as depicted in a Japanese horror story in which an orphaned doll grew excessively long hair and in her anger strangled people in their sleep with her hair. So to placate the spirit of the no longer needed doll it is rightly sent of in a fitting ceremony.

Daitoku – ji temple

Established in 1319, Daitokuji was once a great centre of the arts, and much frequented by the great tea master Sen no Rikyu and the poet Ikkyu. The grounds provide peaceful and serene walking.

Daisen-in – Dry landscape Garden and tea ceremony

Of the Daitoku-ji sub temples, Daisen-in is the best known, with a superb karesansui dry landscape garden. It was built between 1509 and 1513. Although the subtemple is founded by a Zen priest, Kogaku (1464-1584), the screen paintings (Fusuma) inside the temple and the garden are attributed to Soami, an ink landscape painter. The temple has more influence from Taoist and Confucius teachings given that the style comes from Song Dynasty ink painting. The interpretations of the gardens at Daisen-in however are said to be of Zen Buddhist and Feng shui influence. The garden is amazing with a rock shaped in the fashion of a boat transported from Shikoku island. We enjoyed the ambiance of a tea ceremony in the garden.

Hoju temple Kyoto – Poem contest

Beautiful competition – Traditional – This ceremony involved traditional costumes, dancing, singing and beautiful calligraphy of poetry which was read to the audience. It was spiritual and deeply moving. Some young girls offered me a board and a calligraphy pen to write a poem so as to remember my experience of attending the festival.

The theme – Flowers changing colour

The beautiful flower of Japan painting the world with love and peace.
Vermilion petals blowing in the wind.

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