Be in good health at a memorial service of the winter solstice pumpkin.
Text : Yumi Oki / Photo : Takashi Oka
Teramachi-kyogoku Shopping Street is crowded with local people and tourist all together and there is a small temple on the corner of the street called ‘Yatadera Temple’. Once you go through its gate, you will never hear any street noises and it becomes very quiet. You can see a number of red lanterns everywhere and two words; ‘Daijuku-jizo’ and ‘Okurigane’ come up in front of you and also able to see a temple bell.
A history of Yatadera is very old. It was established in the beginning of Heian era as a branch temple of Yatadeara in Nara prefecture on Gojo-bomon street (Shimogyo-ku). Since then, it moved to several places because of a civil war for a while and finally rooted in the present place in 1579. The principal image of their temple is called ‘Taijuku-jizo’ and the statue inside of the main temple looks like it exists in the burning fire.
Mankei Shonin, a chief monk at Yatadera, made his pupils engrave a jizo figure which shows saving criminals who was suffering in the boiling and burning water in hell which Mankei Shonin saw it with his own eyes. It is still believed that this jizo is saving criminals suffering in hell.
The temple bell in Yatadera is called ‘Okurigane’ and a lot of prayers come here to hit this bell when they need to send off the spirits of the dead in order to let the souls lead without being lost.
‘Stuffed jizo’ hand-made by chief monk and his wife is also very popular for the visitors especially for the young ladies. Very lovely appearance with each different faces because of the hand-made product. Inside of this stuffed jizo, there is a small amulet of Daijuku-jizo and it is worth for your good match for marriage, prayer for safe childbirth, and being in good health. You can take this amulet with you to your house or you can dedicate it to the temple with your wishes on. Inside of this temple, you can see Ema (votive picture of horse) and these stuffed jizo amulet hanging around.
A memorial service of the winter solstice pumpkin started 20 years ago at this Yatadera. When it becomes severely cold in December 23rd, a big pumpkin which adult can hold with both arms tougher will be dedicated to the temple. If you pass your hand over it gently, you can have a state of perfect health for a year.
Pumpkin was consider to eliminate the possibility of apoplectic stroke, and also not to get cold or to gain the economic fortune in your life, so that this big pumpkin will be cooked to serve the visitors. Soft and sweet pumpkin has a gentle taste that you can feel the wishes of a chief monk telling you that please take your time and relax in this busy month.
Recently, this temple was featured on TV show and visitors start waiting for the event before the opening time. Only 1,000 dishes will be served so that if you want to eat this pumpkin, then you need to be there before everybody does.
ADDRESS : 523 Sanjo-agaru Teramachi-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto City (MAP)
PHONE : +81(0)75-241-3608
OPEN : 8:00 a.m. ~ 7:00 p.m.
★This is the article, TRAVEL IDEA ‘Travel through Kyoto’s winter table’ by Makiko Nagatomo and next spot is ‘Kamigamo-jinja Shrine’.