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Goin’ Japanesque!

Jotenji: Awe-Inspiring Illumination at a Hakata Japanese Garden

Did you know that, after Kyoto and Nara, the city with the most shrines and temples in all of Japan is Hakata (a ward of present day Fukuoka City) in Fukuoka Prefecture? Today we’re going to look at what’s on for the 2015 offering of Hakata’s inspiring, beautiful annual illuminations.

 

Hakata Light Up Walk 2015

博多ライトアップウォーク2015

Many temples and shrines can be found in the neighborhood of Jōtenji-dōri in Hakata. It’s here that the annual Hakata Sennen Kōya (Thousand Year Illumination) is held. A total of eight temples and shrines are lit up, and there are areas you can enter only during the event period.

Dates: November 19, 2015 to November 23, 2015, 17:30 to 21:00
Place: Kushida Shrine, Jōtenji, Tōchōji, Myōrakuji, Engakuji, Myōtenji, Shōjōji, Hongakuji (note: the “ji” suffix denotes a temple)
Nearest Station: JR Hakata Station, Gion Station on the Airport Subway Line
*Participation fee is 1,000 JPY (1,300 JPY on day of event), which will allow access to all sites

 

Highlight 1: Hakata Sennen no Mon (Hakata Gate of a Thousand Years)

博多千年門

hakata-sennennomon
After getting off at JR Hakata station, this is the first place you should aim for. The Hakata Sennen no Mon was constructed as a gate to welcome you to Hakata’s shrine district. It all starts once you step through this gate!

 

Highlight 2: Illumination at Jōtenji’s Japanese Garden

承天寺

jotenji-dori
Pass through Hakata Sennen no Mon and you’re standing on the street of Jōtenji-dōri.

jotenji2
The star feature of Hakata’s illumination is Jōtenji, a temple constructed in 1241. The area sure feels a lot like Kyoto. Jōtenji is said to be the birth place of udon noodles, soba (buckwheat noodles), and manju steamed buns. There’s a stone monument supporting that claim here, as well. In fact, there are an incredible number of soba and udon shops in Kyushu (where Hakata is). One New Year tradition in Japan involves eating soba called toshikoshi soba on New Year’s Eve, and this aspect of Japanese culture too is said to have originated at Jōtenji. Many scrumptious bowls of udon and soba are served on the day of the event.

jotenji3
Here at Jōtenji, there’s also a nationally-renowned rock garden called Sentotei. When illuminated, the charm and attraction of this garden only increase, making it an absolutely must-see spot. Come this time of year, it goes without saying that the crimson reds of the fall foliage pair with it fabulously. Also, in August 2015, Sentotei was designated as a “night view inheritance of Japan”. Come—sit by the verandah and let its beauty fill your senses. Information: Map
Related: Three Best Temples for Fall Foliage in Kyoto + their Highlights

 

Highlight 3: Tōfū-haru-wo-maneku-kagamijishi

東風招春鏡獅子

jotenji4
Displayed before the statue of the Buddha at Jōtenji, this “Yamakasa”-style portable shrine commands a powerful aura.

 

Highlight 4: Engakuji

円覚寺

hakata-engakuji
Known as a dōjō (place of practice) for both tea ceremony and Zen, Engakuji offers a tea etiquette experience for guests (advance reservation required).

 

Highlight 5: Tōchōji

東長寺

tochoji
This temple is famous for its five-story pagoda.

tochoji-buddha
Tōchōji also boasts one of the largest wooden sitting Buddhas in all of Japan, the Fukuoka Daibutsu. This massive Buddha will be illuminated during the event for the first time this year, so don’t miss out! The wall behind the Fukuoka Daibutsu enshrines many smaller Buddhas, with some counts tabulating over 5,000 of them.

 

Japan has an incredible number of amazing places that still aren’t that well-known globally, and we’re looking forward to introducing them to you little by little in future articles.

Related: Learn for Your Trip to Kyoto: Differences in Etiquette for Shrines and Temples

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