In the center of Kyoto, you can find Nishiki Market, Shijo Dori road with lots of shops and major department stores such as Daimaru and Takashimaya… a lot of busy-ness and business.
In the middle of that, if you are not completely enveloped in the shopping mindset, you may notice a shrine.
What you may not notice, where you may not think of going, is down a little side street nearby. Why would you?
Down that side street, the Teramachi Dori, I had noticed another temple or shrine.
My focus on looking closer, learning more, all to #GetAtHome in this world, is working well in cases like that – especially given that I also have a fascination with (Buddhist) temples.
So, on my way out of Kyoto, I made sure to walk down this road.
A Tour of Temples – on a Block
You will not find this “tour” recommended in guidebooks.
Admittedly, the sheer number of temples on that street is likely to just cure you of the desire to see any more temples for good.
Especially if you have, as I did, visited all the major, must-see temples just shortly before.
Interestingly, also, I don’t think that all the shrines and temples there are shown on Google Maps (which works very well in Japan, in most respects).
Where they are, at least if you zoom in closely enough, there is hardly any info about them.
Anyways, if you ever wanted quick proof that there is something to the saying that Kyoto has temples every few steps, you will find it here.
I can tell stories of basically none of these places.
Hardly any information about them can be found online and easily.
Some info there is, though.
And this mixture of limited info, little advice, things hidden in plain sight, it just adds to the fascination of finding one religious structure after another, aside and behind houses and shops and parking spots and what-not…
Easy-to-miss entrance gate on this road, but going by the map, there is actually a much larger temple area hiding behind…
Hiyoke Tenmagu Shrine
Still the same block, it feels like it might still be the same building that fronts the shopping street and goes into this side street, all with shops inside.
But, there is Shuncho-ji inside and this little path that hugs its backside. A small torii and the usual shimenawa rice-straw rope with lightning bolt-like shide papers mark a (Shinto) holy space beyond.
Hiding there is Hiyoke Tenmagu shrine, which a placard in front helpfully explains as having been established in Kyoto in 1579 and moved to this area in 1587.
It enshrines a god of learning and lies in the only area spared from fire damage during the 1864 Hamaguri Gomon war (and later fires), so that it has gained a reputation as offering protection – and education.
Hardly anything can be found out about this temple; it might belong to the Jodo Shinshu sect of Buddhism and (fittingly, if so) house an Amida Buddha statue.
I also found hints that it (or its statues) are being restored now, to open to the public in 2020.
And then, there was this: A shrine to find a good match in marriage.
Going by the tale of woe that is the Japanese marriage situation, it is very appropriate. But if a place advertising its services with manga-painting-like maidens is really the best choice?
You decide. But consider that, Japan being as it is, those depictions may just as well serve to attract female clients as male supplicants…
Why didn’t I say anything about all those temples shown above?
Because there is basically zero information about them…
As I said, it makes it all the more interesting – even if it makes for strange blog posts and travel vlogs that aren’t really travel vlogs: