Temple visiting in autumn - Culture of the ancient capital: Toji Temple - Waku Waku

Explore, Experience
Enjoy Japan

Temple visiting in autumn -  Culture of the ancient capital: Toji Temple

Culture

Temple visiting in autumn - Culture of the ancient capital: Toji Temple

Our journey of experiencing the practice of Heart Sutra copying at Toji Temple and worshiping 1001 Guan Yin Bodhisattva statues at Sanjusangendo Temple.

Lyne

Lyne

Published on 10 Sep, 12:00

We rented a car to travel from Nagoya to Shiga and circled Biwa Lake before reaching the ancient capital of Kyoto to embark on our temple tour in the beautiful autumn weather. It was late November, but what a pity that the leaves of Metasequoia trees (メタセコイア並木) in Shiga had not yet changed their color.

The journey to Toji Temple

I realized there was a highland called Makino (マキノ高原), offering a stunning grass field next to the famous Metasequoia tree-lined street. We walked hand in hand around the highland indulging in the beauty of nature during the fall foliage.

Though we couldn't see the autumnal colors of Shiga's Metasequoia trees, the sight of reeds in the twilight at the nearby Makino Highland (マキノ高原) is just as fulfilling.
Though we couldn't see the autumnal colors of Shiga's Metasequoia trees, the sight of reeds in the twilight at the nearby Makino Highland (マキノ高原) is just as fulfilling.

We stayed for one night in Kyoto. The following day, we departed early and walked to Toji Temple (東寺), the famous Tantric Buddhist temple of the ancient capital recognized as a world heritage site.

The main reason I got here is to look for the famous fabric dyer I met by chance four years ago. He has been selling Buddha paintings in Toji Temple for years. Therefore, we did not enter the main hall but looked through the surrounding halls. We arrived at the temple's dining hall unexpectedly, capturing the sight of 2 elderlies immersed in copying the Heart Sutra.

My boyfriend was more than willing to try out sutra copying and make it an offering to the Buddha.

I was not confident with my Kanji level, but this was a unique experience to miss out on

Later, through research, I found out that to encourage Buddhists to copy and learn the sutras, the Toji Temple Management Board had decided to organize a sutra copying activity in the dining hall during off-peak times. Incense, paper, and offering registration form at Five-Story Pagoda cost ¥2000 per two sheets. You should pay the fee by cash at the reception counter or via online registration.

Relax if you did not know a single Kanji! Thanks to the provided sample sheet, you would be able to trace the letters easily. You could finish one copy on the spot, get the other one done at home, and send it back to the temple through the post office if there was a lack of time.

One of the two copies would be placed in the Five-Story Pagoda (五重塔) - the symbol of Toji Temple. All of the sutra copies would be the offerings to the Vairocana Buddha in the next offering ceremony.

The sample sheet for the practice of Heart Sutra copying at Toji Temple
The sample sheet for the practice of Heart Sutra copying at Toji Temple

To prepare for the practice of sutra copying, we cleansed our hands by rubbing them against agarwood, sat upright with folded hands, and solemnly chanted the Buddha's name. The aroma of agarwood from our hands gently filled the air… Honestly, I could not recall anything besides how lovely the morning sunbeam shone through the window lingering on my copy of the sutras.

 A photo to remind us of our first attempt at sutra copying in Japan
A photo to remind us of our first attempt at sutra copying in Japan

When I first learned about Buddhism, I also started with sutra copying. Printing and donating the scriptures got so much easier nowadays that the practice of hand-copying sutras has gradually become forgotten.

When I devoted myself to copying and reciting each sacred word on a peaceful morning at the temple, it felt as if my heart and soul were thoroughly cleansed. The stress and anxiety that filled up my mind last night were gone at that moment. All I could feel were the fragrance of agarwood and the sound of the standing bell.

It took me about 35 minutes to complete the copy and other registration forms. My boyfriend was sitting behind, patiently waiting for me. As I showed him my copy, he whispered:

- Don't you have any wishes?

- Nah, I just leave it blank. How about you?

- I did write a word.

He gave me a cheeky smile while handing me his copy. There was a character of on it, which meant nothing. We both laughed. The emotions of that moment seemed to be engraved in my mind. My heart was like the sky in autumn – bright, vast, and oh-so-clear. It dawned on me that having no desire could lead you to inner peace.

Temple visiting in autumn -  Culture of the ancient capital: Toji Temple

It is currently mid-autumn in Japan. The memories of the autumn I spent visiting the temples come flooding back. It was not the most beautiful autumn, but definitely the most peaceful one.

In the upcoming article, our temple visiting journey in autumn will go on with a trip to Sanjuusangendo Temple worshiping 1001 statues of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara with thousand eyes and thousand hands.

Hope you will enjoy my next post! If you do, don't forget to share it!

Lyne,

1
Lyne

Lyne

My happiness is a cup of coffee & blue jazz 💞

From the same writer

Temple visiting in autumn - Culture of the ancient capital: Toji Temple

Our journey of experiencing the practice of Heart Sutra copying at Toji Templ...

Lyne Lyne · Culture · 18 days ago

0
Guidance on marriage procedures with Japanese by mail: Fast - simple - economical

Share the details on applying and the fees for a certificate of eligibility f...

Lyne Lyne · Lifestyle · 8 months ago

0
Have you tried the picnic photography service (Location Photography) in Japan?

Sharing my cheap couples photoshoot experience in Otaru, Hokkaido!

Lyne Lyne · Travel · 10 months ago

0

Read also

Got something wrong on our system. Please reload and try again!
Success action!