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Three Temples and Shrines Want to Visit on Rainy Days

Temples and Shrines Ideal for Rainy Days

What's the experience like visiting shrines and temples on rainy days?

This article is written for those who are pondering this question.

Hello there! I'm Maiko, a fan of temples and shrines.
This time, I'm going to address some queries from my curious friends and introduce some temples and shrines that are ideal to visit on rainy days.

This article is also recommended for those who have some free time on rainy days and are wondering, "Is it even okay to visit shrines on a rainy day?"

By reading this article, you will discover:
Ideal for rainy days! Romantic shrines in Izu, Ideal for rainy days! Dramatic temples in Kyoto, and Ideal for rainy days! Fantastic temples in Yufuin. Be sure to use this as a reference!

Ideal for Rainy Days! Romantic Shrines in Izu

This is Ririka, a colleague of Maiko's. I'm the type who wants to play enthusiastically even on weekends.But, can we visit shrines and temples on rainy days?

Ririka:Lately, it's been raining so much, and it puts me in a bad mood. The laundry won't dry, and my suit smells bad when it gets wet.

Maiko:Oh, really? Nowadays, there are detergents specifically for drying indoors, so there's no musty smell!
I actually quite like rainy days. Watching movies while munching on potato chips is the best!

Ririka:I feel unwell if I stay indoors too much. If I just sit in the corner of the room, I feel like I'm going to grow mold on my butt!

Maiko:That's an exaggeration. If you want, I can recommend plenty of interesting movies.

Ririka:In that case, how about introducing me to a nice guy!

Maiko:Impossible (she responds instantly).

Ririka:Oh well, guess it can't be helped. Then, tell me about perfect outing spots on rainy days!

Maiko:If that's what you want, I've got a great idea. How about Izu? When you hear Izu, what comes to mind?

Ririka:A sudden word association game? Let's see... the sea, hot springs, and wasabi?

Maiko:Wasabi?! That's a unique one. Hey, I was hoping you'd say "The Dancing Girl of Izu"!

Ririka:Isn't that a hundred times more unique!?

Maiko:Remember the beginning of "The Dancing Girl of Izu." When the road gets twisty, the rain gets heavier!

Ririka:Even if you say that... I haven't read it!

Maiko:Seriously! I thought experiencing "The Dancing Girl of Izu" would be romantic, but if you don't have any attachment to it, the crossing of the Amagi Pass is just plain tough.

  • Old Amagi Tunnel
    Old Amagi Tunnel
  • Joren Waterfall - Statue of The Dancing Girl of Izu
    Joren Waterfall - Statue of The Dancing Girl of Izu

Maiko:Pull yourself together. How about visiting Hie Shrine, which is right next to Shuzenji Temple?

Ririka:Is it okay to visit a shrine on a rainy day?

Maiko:There are indeed theories that rainy days are not favorable. In the spiritual world, everything is classified into "yang" and "yin," and rain falls under "yin." Therefore, it is believed that good energy isn't flowing much on rainy days.
However, it is also said that rainy days can wash away bad things.

Ririka:That sounds a bit opportunism, doesn't it?

Maiko:I think " there is no time like the present." I believe the gods will welcome us even on rainy days!

Ririka:That makes sense!

Hie Shrine
Hie Shrine

Maiko:Hie Shrine is said to have been established by Kobo Daishi (Kukai), and it stands at the 'demon's gate' of Shuzenji Temple. Inside the shrine grounds, there's a more than 800-year-old "Married Cedar Tree" whose roots are connected. It is famous for praying for children.

Ririka:Wow! Feeling the power of trees on a rainy day sounds mystical!

■Hie Shrine
A shrine located in Izu City, Shizuoka Prefecture.
There used to be stairs between the "Married Cedar Trees" mentioned earlier, allowing people to pass through. However, the stairs have been removed now to protect the trees. Additionally, there is the remains of Shinkoin, where Minamoto no Yoritomo's half-brother, Minamoto no Noriyori, was imprisoned.

Ideal for Rainy Days! Dramatic Temples in Kyoto

I'm Minami, who hit it off with Maiko during our university days!
I'm also a self-proclaimed history buff, and I've visited all the famous shrines and temples in Kyoto!
I want to enjoy deep Kyoto even on rainy days!

Minami:Kiyomizu Temple, Kinkakuji Temple, Ginkakuji Temple. Ryoanji Temple, Nanzenji Temple, Daitokuji. Heian Jingu Shrine, Byodoin Phoenix Hall. Blah blah...

Maiko:What are you mumbling about?

Minami:I feel like I've been to most of Kyoto's famous tourist spots. I wonder if there's anywhere I still need to visit. And today, it's rainy...

Maiko:You're right. Then how about going to a power spot unique to rainy days?

Minami:Huh? Is there such a place? Like a temple with a dragon painted on the ceiling? By the way, I've already been to Myoshinji Temple, Kenninji Temple, Tenryuji Temple, and Shokokuji Temple.

Maiko:Okay. Let's go to a place that will surely impress a history buff like you!

... The two head to Shijo Omiya ...

Minami:I'm not too familiar with Shijo Omiya.

Maiko:You can go there without changing trains, even to Osaka Umeda. It's also convenient for Arashiyama and the central part of Kyoto. By the way, the place we're going today is Mibu Temple!

Minami:Mibu Temple! It's related to the Shinsengumi, right?

Maiko:As expected of a history buff! Mibu Temple is indeed associated with the Shinsengumi.

Minami:I loved the NHK Taiga drama "Shinsengumi!" To this day, my image of Toshizo Hijikata is still Koji Yamamoto! When I saw Koji Yamamoto as Toshizo Hijikata again in the morning drama "Asa ga Kita," I was thrilled!

Maiko:He played the role perfectly. Masato Sakai as Keisuke Yamanami and Tatsuya Fujiwara as Soji Okita were also impressive.

Minami:My grandpa didn't like them because they didn't look like typical samurai from period dramas.

Maiko:Mibu-dera Temple is a temple of the Ritsu School. You might not be familiar with the Ritsu School, but it's a Buddhist denomination founded by Jianzhen from Tang China. You know Jianzhen, right?

Minami:Of course! He's the Tang Dynasty monk who came to Japan even though he was blind, right?

Maiko:That's right. Mibu-dera Temple is the head temple of the Ritsu School, and the Jizo Bodhisattva is the main deity. There are so many Jizo statues on the temple grounds. Do you see that tower-like structure next to the main hall? It's called the "Sentai Butto," a tower made with a thousand Jizo statues. They were collected during the city planning of Kyoto.

Main Hall and Sentai Butto
Main Hall and Sentai Butto

Minami:Indeed, as you walk around Kyoto, you'll find a Jizo statue in every city block. They've collected the Jizo statues that lost their places.

Maiko:That's right. There are also other attractions like the "Mizukake Jizo", a type of Jizo statue that people pour water over in order to have one wish granted, the "Yonaki Jizo" that is said to bring blessings for curing illnesses and stopping babies' night crying, and the "Ichiya Tenjin-do," a place where it is believed you can gain wisdom overnight.

Ichiya Tenjin-do
Ichiya Tenjin-do

Minami:There are so many interesting things to see!

Maiko:For Shinsengumi fans, the Amidado Hall is a must-see. In its basement, there's a historical materials room displaying Shinsengumi-related exhibits. There's also the Mibuzuka, which features a bust of Isami Kondo and a tower that contains his preserved hair.

  • Former Mibuzuka - Free Life Pond
    Former Mibuzuka - Free Life Pond
  • Isami Kondo Bust
    Isami Kondo Bust

Minami:Mm, mm, mm. I definitely have to see those.

Maiko:There's also the grave of Kamo Serizawa, a Shinsengumi member, and nearby is the Yagi Residence, so if we have time, let's visit there too.

Minami:The Yagi Residence?! Is it the place where Serizawa Kamo was supposedly assassinated?

Maiko:Exactly! Serizawa Kamo was said to be brutally murdered in a torrential rain.

Minami:I see! So, Mibu-dera Temple is perfect for a rainy day! I get it now!

■Mibu-dera Temple
As the head temple of the Ritsu School, it has been revered as the "temple of Jizo statues." It is also known as the "temple associated with the Shinsengumi" since it was used as their training ground during the late Edo period.

QAShinsengumi (新選組) or Shinsengumi (新撰組), which one is correct?
In conclusion, both are acceptable! The name "Shinsengumi" was given by the Aizu clan, but both Shinsengumi (新選組) and Shinsengumi (新撰組) have been used since that time. Generally, Shinsengumi (新選組) is more commonly used. Mibu Temple's website also uses the Shinsengumi (新選組) spelling for consistency.

Ideal for Rainy Days! Fantastic Temples in Yufuin

Maiko and Rie are childhood friends from kindergarten.
They're planning to visit Yufuin this weekend, but the weather forecast predicts rain. Should they change their plans?

Rie:It's unfortunate that the weather forecast for this weekend shows rain. We're supposed to be on a girls' trip, and I wonder if we'll be able to see Mount Yufu clearly.

Maiko:Remember when we went to Mount Aso and couldn't see anything because of the fog?

Rie:Yeah, at Daikanbo. It was all white just a few meters ahead of us. And it's usually such a scenic spot.

Maiko:There was that car that had fallen into the ditch, and they had to call the police, remember?

Rie:Oh, right! That young couple was stranded.

Maiko:Yes, the guy looked so distressed. But we should be fine in Yufuin, there are no places for such slips.

Rie:But it's hard if the ground is slippery. Wherever we go, there are mostly street shops.

Maiko:It might be less crowded than when it's sunny, don't you think?

Rie:We'll get wet in the rain, won't we?

Maiko:I get it. Then, let's try to come up with an itinerary that keeps us from getting too wet.

Rie:Can you even do that?

Maiko:Trust me! Let's go see the scenery that's unique to rainy days! But you'll have to wake up very early.

...The two of them headed to Bussanji Temple early in the morning, in the rain...

Rie:I don't mind going to the temple, but isn't this a bit too early?

Maiko:Not at all. I plan to do zazen today!

Rie:Zazen? I've never done that before!

Maiko:You said you didn't want to get wet in the rain, didn't you? A rainy day is perfect for doing zazen at a temple! The best combination!

Rie: I'm a beginner, and I'm a bit worried. What if I can't concentrate and get hit with a stick?

Maiko:If you bow and request it, they might hit you with a stick, but it's optional. So don't worry.

Bussanji Temple Inside
Bussanji Temple Inside

...After finishing zazen, the two of them ventured out into the rain again...

Rie:On rainy days, the greenery looks even richer, doesn't it?

Maiko:They call it "blessing rain."

Rie:Temples still have an elegant atmosphere even when it rains. Being surrounded by bamboo groves adds to the serene beauty.

Maiko:Oh, my. I think you've broadened your horizons by doing zazen, haven't you?

Rie:Maybe! Oh, by the way, I wonder why thatched roofs don't leak when it rains. Thatched roofs are made of pampas grass, right?

Maiko:I heard it's because they have a steep slope. Also, the grass is bundled, so the water only flows on the surface.

Rie:Wow, that's amazing! It's the wisdom of people from the past!

Bussanji Temple Shanmen
Bussanji Temple Shanmen

...The two of them headed to one of the main attractions in Yufuin, Lake Kinrin...

Rie:Look, look! There's a torii gate in the middle of the lake. Could it be the torii gate of Tenso shrine behind it?

Maiko:Hmm, this torii gate was originally from Bussanji Temple, it seems.

Rie:What?! A temple with a torii gate? Why is that?

Maiko:It might be a remnant of Shinbutsu-shugo (syncretism between Shinto and Buddhism) or the aftermath of Haibutsu kishaku (anti-Buddhist movements). Do you know about Shinbutsu-shugo?

Rie: I think I learned about it in a Japanese history class long ago...

Maiko:I definitely learned about it before (firmly). Oh, by the way, I wrote a column recently about Shinbutsu-shugo and Haibutsu kishaku. You might want to read it!

Traveling around Ancient Japan of Tenioha - Part 2: Visiting Sakanoue no Tamuramaro - Takkoku no Iwaya Temple - by Marcion's Box

Rie:Oh, reading it, I somehow recall a little!

Maiko:Bussanji Temple is currently a Rinzai School temple, but originally, it was a Tendai School temple. It has long been revered as a place for mountain worship.
In Japan, there is a belief that gods reside in all things of nature, right? Because there was compatibility between Buddhism and mountain worship, the Shinbutsu-shugo was widely accepted and established, I suppose.

Rie:It's a unique culture that was cultivated.

Maiko:During the Meiji era, when the Shinbutsu Hanzenrei (the Order of Separation of Shinto and Buddhism) was enacted, the torii gate at Lake Kinrin was moved from Bussanji Temple as a way to escape the Haibutsu kishaku.

Rie:So, is it placed inside the pond, making it difficult to approach easily?

  • Lake Kinrin
    Lake Kinrin
  • Torii gate floating on the lake.
    Torii gate floating on the lake.

Maiko:It's surprising to think that even in such a remote countryside, the storm of the Haibutsu kishaku reached. Not many people know, but after the Shinbutsu Hanzenrei decree, there was also a prohibition of Shugendo (mountain asceticism).
To the Meiji government, Shugendo with various Buddhist doctrines was probably an undesirable presence.

Rie:I see. But the people living in this area came together to protect their culture through their collective wisdom.

Maiko:From that perspective, it can be seen as a pioneering movement in respecting diversity.

Rie:Lake Kinrin is famous for its morning fog, isn't it?

Maiko:Yes, water and hot springs gush from the lake bottom, raising the water temperature, which causes the mist to rise during early mornings in autumn and winter. I've seen it once, and it's very enchanting.

Rie:I'd love to see it. Even on rainy days, I can feel the presence of the gods here.

■Bussanji Temple
A Rinzai School temple surrounded by cedar and bamboo. It is also known as a spot for autumn foliage.
Zazen requires advance reservation.
Ryugazan Bussanji Temple | "Wa-Qoo" Portal Site for Training and Temple Lodging (wa-qoo.com)

■Lake Kinrin
Yufuin's symbolic presence. The lake's fish scales shine in the evening sun, earning it the name "Lake Kinrin" (Golden Scale Lake). It is a 7-minute drive from JR Yufuin Station. There are walking paths and cafes in the surrounding area, making it enjoyable to explore on foo

QA"Yufuin" (由布院) or "Yufuin" (湯布院), which one is correct?
In conclusion, either one is acceptable! Originally, the name was Yufuin (由布院), but it became Yufuin (湯布院) due to a merger. However, places like Mount Yufu and JR Yufuin Station continued to use the name Yufuin (由布院) as it was. As a result, both spellings still exist today.


Above, we have covered the shrines and temples you may want to visit on rainy days.

In reality, visiting shrines and temples on rainy days offers a different atmosphere and unique charm compared to sunny days.
However, please be cautious when visiting places with many slopes or stone steps, as the footing may be uneven.

Thank you for reading until the end.