Ring the bell on New Year’s Eve at the temple of the Taira family.
Text : Yumi Oki / Photo : Takashi Oka
Photo provider : Keiichi Suzuki (JLC)
It’s about 5 minutes from the crowd in Gion, ‘Choraku-ji Temple’ stays quietly at the end of Maruyama Park. Kenrei Monin became a monk after the ruin of Taira family and this temple is well-known for that. You can see Kenrei Monin Gorei (an image of Kenrei Monin), Emperor Antoku’s Goiban (A buddhist flag made by his clothes) and many more temple treasure of Taira family.
This temple is also well-known for a great autumn tint sight since Heian era, and also people know this place through Saigyo’s song from ‘Sankashu’ and Raisanyo, a man of letters, left a song from ‘Kyono shiki’. Moreover, they also have a magnificent garden with a mountain behind created by Soami in Muromachi era. However, this is the secret part that not so many people know about. It is about ringing a bell in New Year’s Eve.
At Choraku-ji Temple, not only monks are going to ring the bell, but also any people can do that together. A bell-tower is right next to the main hall and has been popular as ’The bell of Choraku-ji Temple’. Unfortunately, the first temple bell, which was created in 1657, was delivered to the Japanese Army, but the bell was produced again in 1956 so that people were able to start hearing the sound of Ojikicho Bell every year.
Ringing the bell of New Year’s Eve starts from midnight in January 1st till 1:00 a.m. on the spot. If you would like to visit there in the morning, then they provide you a ticket from 9:00 a.m. so that you don’t have rush yourself to be in line at a night time. They will pass around the ticket while people ring the bell, but if you really want to participate in this event, then you definitely need to be there earlier than everyone. One ticket is 500 yen and a paper and a bag of amulet will be given.
It takes only 7 minutes to go to Chion-in Temple, which is famous for 17 monks ring the huge bell together. After you see the bell of New Year’s Eve at Chion-in Temple, you might want to take a walk to Maruyama Park and head to Chorakuji-temple and ring their bell finally. If you want to visit Yasaka jinja Shrine, you can join ‘Wokera-mairi’, a New Year’s event so that you can explore both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s event all together.
ADDRESS : 626 Maruyama-cho Higashi-iru, Toriimae Yasaka, Higashi-ku, Kyoto City (MAP)
PHONE : +81(0)75-561-0589
NEW YEAR’S EVE BELL : January 1st Midnight ~ 1:00 a.m. and start again from 9:00 a.m. again. Ticket will be given.
CHARGE : 500 yen (including amulets)
WEBSITE : http://www.age.ne.jp/x/chouraku/
★Next spot introduced by Junya Yamamura's TRAVEL IDEA 'New Year's Eve in Kyoto' is Yasaka Jinja Shrine.