Yasaka Koshin-Do Temple in Kyoto, Japan’s Higashiyama district, formally called Daikoku-san Kongo-ji Koshin-Do, is one of the smaller temples in Kyoto, and is famous for its multitude of colorful cloth balls strung around the temple. The temple isn’t completely Buddhist like most temples in Japan, but rather it represents a lesser known, significantly smaller folk faith called Koshin, which is primarily influenced by Taoist beliefs, with some Shinto and Buddhist traditions and beliefs mixed in. This particular temple is said to be a place were believers can go to pray for a wish to come true, in exchange for giving up one of their earthly desires.
Yasaka Koshin-Do Temple
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Address: 390-1 Kinencho
Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0828, Japan
Nearest Train Stop:Kyoto Station then Kyoto City Bus 206 or 100
stop at the Kiyomizumichi bus stop
+ 3 Minute Walk
Hours: 9am – 5pm Daily
Admission Fee: No fee
Dress Code: Respectful dress, or Kimono
Legend says that if a person writes their wish on one of the colorful cloth balls, which are meant to look like a legendary monkey named Kukurizaru with its hands and feet bound, and strives to live a better life by giving up a bad habit or letting go of an earthly desire (e.g. quitting smoking, they give up drinking coffee, or work on improving their attitude) then their wish will come true. The bound hands and feet of Kukurizaru are meant to represent self-control, and overcoming impulsiveness, and triumphing over one’s desires.
For non-believers or curious visitors, Yasaka Koshin-Do Temple is a common photo backdrop. While this main seem disrespectful, temple workers encourage people to take photographs to promote the temple, so don’t feel like you’re being disrespectful by snapping a quick selfie or a few photos of the colorful displays.
While this concept of socially sharing and photographing a temple is not widely held in Japan, indeed many shrines and temples around the nation have signs strictly prohibiting photography of any kind, this temple is much more relaxed and laid-back than most. Read all about how to be respectful when visiting a temple or shrine in Japan here.
Yasaka Koshin-Do Temple is located just around the corner, tucked away on a small side street, from nearby Yasaka-no-to Pagoda, one of Kyoto’s most iconic buildings. It’s easy to walk right past the temple, but it’s absolutely worth seeking out and patronizing to learn more about local beliefs, culture, and customs.
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