Culture

Shrines & Temples

Religion in Japan has a long and complex history. Most people incorporate aspects of the native Shinto and imported Buddhism. This kind of syncretism started in the 6th century, when Buddhism was introduced to Japan through China.

Shrines and temples had coexisted hand in hand for many centuries before the newly formed government designated Shinto as Japan’s state religion in the early years of the Meiji period during the mid-19th century. One of the consequences of such an act was the destruction and vandalism of many Buddhist temples in Japan, especially in Kagoshima where many of the Meiji revolutionaries originated. That wave of destruction came to Kimotsuki as well.

It is said that there were many old and precious temples throughout Kimotsuki in the old days, including Doryuji Temple, but almost all were destroyed by fanatics. What you see here are new temples built after such acts of violence subsided in the later years of Meiji.

The most well known shrine in Kimotsuki is Shijukusho Shrine in Koyama disctict of Kimotsuki, which dates back to the 11th century, and is home to Yabusame Festival in October. The red color of the shrine makes a striking contrast to the lush greens behind the shrine.

When it comes to temples, as explained before, almost all of them were destroyed during the frenzied early years of Meiji. A must visit is  Doryuji Temple, which was built by a Chinese Zen monk in the 13th century, named “Ran-kei-doryu,” who eventually ended up in Japan’s capital, Kamakura, and built one of the most famous Zen temples in Japan, Kenchoji Temple.

Doryuji offers another interesting story for anyone visiting the temple. For a detailed account of the story, please go to this page.

Another shrine worth visiting is Takaya Shrine in Uchinoura district of the town, where the local folklore says that the Emperor Keiko, the legendary 12th emperor of Japan, came here to quell the local rebels and stayed for several years before heading back to the capital.