Sunday, December 25, 2011

Dolls Temple (Houkyouji-Temple) (宝鏡寺) in Kyoto

Do you have dolls?
If you have your favorite dolls, and you're planning to part with that dolls for some reasons,
you may visit this temple with your dolls,and hold a memorial service for them.
In Japan,dolls are believed to be imbued with a spirit,like humanbeing,
because dolls have been loved so tenderly by the owner.
So when we have to part with our dolls,they have to be disposed of in a purifying ritual.
This ritual is held only March(3.1~4.3) and November(11.1~11.30)in this temple.
This is the temple,"Houkyou-ji Temple" in Kyoto.People sometimes call this temple "Dolls Temple".
This temple is very famous for its dolls purifying ritual.
Many people in Japan visit this temple with their dolls which they're plannning to part with.
Originally this temple was rebuilt by ancient Imperial princess,"Karin-Egon-Zenni".(華林宮恵厳禅尼)
about 700 years ago,in Kamakura era.
According to a legend,the princess found a small statue of Goddess caught in a fishing net at Futamigaura sea in Mie prefecture,and she brought it back to Kyoto.
Then she built this temple,and worshiped that small statue as a god. That is the origin of this temple.

So this temple has long been closely connected with Imperial lineage since 700 years ago,
and for generations Imperial people takes charge of this temple.

Nadeshiko flowers are beautiful.
They are even drawn on the sliding doors for partitioning rooms.(Fusuma-e)
This temple has closely connected with princess since ancient times,
so it has so feminine atmosphere.
This is also drawing in this temple. Pheasants are vividly described by famous ancient painter, Oukyo-Maruyama.

For generations,Imperial princess loved their favorite dolls.
This doll is "Banzei-san". (万勢伊さん)
This is in the shape of a lady-in-waiting of princess.
This doll is so loved by the ancient princess that it is said to be imbued with a spirit of humanbeing,
and it is said to have patroled (night watch) in the temple.

These dolls are lady-in-waiting of "Banzei-san". They are enjoying Japanese backgammon.
The left girl is "Otora-san",and the right girl is "Otake-san".
Ancient Imperial princess loved such realistic dolls like her real friends,
and the princess treated these dolls as real human.
And these dolls always supported the princess mentally in everyday life,
and these dolls played an important roll of teaching material of the princess.

This Dolls temple is open only in March(3.1~4.3) and November(11.1~11.30).
This is famous temple of historic interest,deserves special mention.


Please take subway "Karasuma line" from Hankyu Karasuma station in Kyoto,and get off at "Imadegawa" (今出川)station.
It takes 15 minutes from Imadegawa-station to this Dolls Temple.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and the best in the New Year.


  1. A very interesting presentation, thank you!

  2. @Traveling Halk,
    Thank you,Traveling Halk,
    We do hope you will have a pleasant Japan sightseeing in April.

  3. This was a very impressive and informative post! I enjoyed it very much!

  4. @Freida,
    Thank you.I'm happy if you enjoy this post.
    Yes,this temple is very interesting.
    When we part with our favorite dolls,(sometimes)we hold a memorial service for them,just like a funeral of humanbeing.
    It is one of our old custom,which is called "Ningyou-Kuyou" in Japan.
    We can see this type of temple throughout the country.