Temple Naritasan Shinshoji (Honshu)

Narita isn’t a bad place to end my trip to Japan. It’s quiet and quite cute in a touristy way. There are plenty of souvenir shops, bars and fast food outlets all in a compact area focused on the Naritasan Shinshoji temple. I head out on the bike for a ride around and to look at the temple. It’s pretty and peaceful with large sprawling gardens and plenty of paths to take you every which way around the small mountain.
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A big ball decorates the temple entrance. It’s the time I’ve seen this in Japan. It’s more reminiscent of Chinese Buddhist temples than the austere Japanese ones.  photo IMG_6696_zpsaeof1f3q.jpg

As always there are many steep steps to climb. This is something I have come to associate with Buddhism: the penance of steps.  photo IMG_6698_zpsbobohvdi.jpg

The cute turtles in the wishing pond remind me of the temple Paul and I went to in Ipoh, Malaysia.  photo IMG_6699_zpswfl4tmsx.jpg

There are many many tomb stones in this temple grounds. It’s obviously been an important burial place for many many years. photo IMG_6700_zpsz3wnwxdd.jpg

This shrine is the centre piece of the main temple complex. It is very ornate by Japanese standards. Nearby some monks start banging the temple drums and chanting prayers. I stand a while watching and listening. The chanting and drum are enchanting.

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I buy a prayer board and write a prayer. There are coloured felt tip pens and drawings showing some beautifully decorated prayer boards. Most are simple and written in black pen but I go for something brighter. I am no artist so cannot meet the standards of the artistic examples but it’s the thought and prayer that count. photo IMG_6704_zpsuyace45c.jpg

I enjoy walking through the gardens. Many paths lead in all directions, mostly meeting up with each other at various points of the walk. It’s a perfect metaphore for life in that we all have to take our own paths.  photo IMG_6706_zpss8ycuopo.jpgAnd this is the centrepiece of the entire complex. This temple tower can be seen from all around Narita. It is proud and tall and elegant. It’s where all the paths lead. It’s by far the most decorative and glamorous of the temples I have seen here in Japan. The closest other temple was Nachi Taisha back at the end of my Kumano Koda walk all those weeks ago. But even that was just orange and not quite as elaborate as this temple and it’s buildings.

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