Temples of town
Sapporo Travel Blog› entry 4 of 52 › view all entries
I go out of the centre of town to get to a temple complex. It is located in a small park next to the zoo. As you walk away from the street and into the park you lose all sight of the surrounding city even though it is only a few meters away. I go into the temple complex walking along a long road with some sort of markings on the side of the path.
Then I get to the main temple complex which got a small stair from the ground level. Inside the main temple is some sort of ceremony going on. I really would like to take pictures within the temple complex but I am not sure if it is ok to take pictures at such a sight hence I try to ask the guard for permission and they say it is ok.
Unfortunately the ceremony finished before I got the permission to take pictures - hence I only got a picture of a woman dress in a kimono leaving the temple. I walk around the temple complex and watch a bit what is going on - this is my first trip to a Japanese temple and I got no idea what it is like. I see the people going up to the front of the temple and then they throw in a couple of coins into some sort of collection arrangement. This produces some noise which is sort of indicating whether or not people have paid their tribute to the temple I guess. The coins are followed by a bow and two claps with the hands - I suppose this can sort of be considered a noisier version of the orthodox or catholic making the sign of the cross when they enter into a church.
Then a couple of people arrive - they are giving a small envelope with something which I suppose is money or representing money they have donated to the shrine to make a ceremony. It all begins with the women hitting the big drum calling on the deities I guess. One of the women carried something up to the central part of the shrine. Then a man dressed in green starts to speak out in a semi singing fashion - I guess he is equivalent of a Christian priest. He finish his part of the ceremony and one of the two women starts to perform something which looks like sort of a ritual dance while a drum and a flute is being played.
The ceremony ends with something green being presented to the two men taking part in the ceremony and they leave it at the front of the open room just below the main ceremony room. Then they get back with sort of a gift - which comes as a bit surprise for me given something similar is unheard of in the main Middle Eastern religions dominating Europe.
I guess by now I managed to demonstrate my complete and utter ignorance of the Shinto, Zen and Buddhism but given I never seen a ceremony like this before I found it quite fascinating. A little while after this ceremony came to a close the people at the shrine started to take down the seat inside and I suppose there would be no more ceremonies for the day. People still came to the shrine though clapping hands and throwing coins.
After I had finished looking around the shrine I went out to a small shop where they served green tea and some sort of cake or pastry they were heating up as the guest of the shrine came by.
Leaving the main shrine I walked past a couple of minor shrines which were not quite as impressive as the first one - actually far from it - but the faithful still stopped in front of each shrine bowing their head in respect.
After my first religious experience in Japan I went to a more mortal setting the house of the governor - or at least I think it was the house of the governor - but I have my doubts. My map told me this was the location of the governor but anybody could walk straight up to his mansion and look in the window if this was really his mansion - so maybe I was in the right park but missed out on the right building.