Make a Wish with a Colorful Dangling Monkey
Enter the gate of Yasaka Koshindo Temple, and without a doubt the first thing to strike you will be the numerous colorful balls, hung all around the temple. These are called "kukurizaru" (くくり猿), literally "bound monkeys," and they're talismans sold by the temple. They're no gimmick, though! The temple is dedicated to Koshin, a blue deity with origins in a unique folk-religion also called Koshin, which is where the three see/hear/speak no evil monkeys come from. Because of this connection to monkeys, the little stuffed talismans are shaped a little like monkeys hanging from a branch. Traditionally the Buddhist idea was that you would transfer your worldly desires to one of the monkeys. These days you can write your wish on one, tie it up with the rest, and see if Koshin will help it come true. Either way you'll add one more burst of color.
- You'll find the entrance to the temple right by Hokanji Temple, a 5-story pagoda.
- The colorful backdrop attracts foreign travelers and locals alike. It's a pretty good place to take some snapshots.
- The monkeys are supposed to help you discard your worldly desires, but instead, we just started to desire a colorful monkey talisman.
- As a temple, of course you can also make a wish or prayer the normal way. Don't forget to dress up in kimono (or yukata) before you go.
The Last Remnants of a Japanese Folk Faith
As you near the main temple buildings, you'll see more vestiges of the Koshin folk religion these monkeys come from.
- The little monkey-like talismans aside, Koshin-style monkeys are scattered around the temple. Go to light some incense and you'll see our old friends the see, hear, and speak no evil monkeys. Up the stairs are another set, worn with age but still covering their respective ears, eyes, and mouth.
- Not only is the Yasaka Koshindo Temple a great spot for photoshoots, but you might end up learning a thing or two about Japanese culture as well! Take a couple insta-worthy shots, and then search the (fairly compact) grounds for other signs of the old Koshin religion, and the monkeys who are there to help rid you of evil.
Yasaka Koshindo (八坂庚申堂)
Address: 390-1 Kinencho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Hours: 9:00 - 17:00
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⇩ Get a better idea of the temple's atmosphere in our video below. ⇩