As part of my journey in Narita, I walked to Narita-san Park, a park northeast of downtown where several culturally significant large temples are located. The main temple, Narita-san Shinsho-ji Temple was founded in 940. Currently, approximately 90 million Japanese consider themselves to be Buddhist (which is a majority of the population).
Naritasan was built in the year 940 around its main sacred object of worship, a statue of the Buddhist Fudo Myoo deity. Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon Sect and one of the most important figures in Japan’s religious history, is said to have carved the statue.
There was a large incense burner (about 5 feet tall) at the entrance to Narita-san Shinsho-ji Temple that people would walk up to and waft the smoke over their head several times prior to approaching the temple.
At the entrance of each temple, there are small stands or shops where one can buy candles and other tokens that are for use in prayer or some other ritual at the temple. I observed several people stop at a temple and pray and ring the large bells at the temple. I did not take pictures of those places, as I did not want to be disrespectful to their ritual, however, I did take pictures of several other buildings there that I found very interesting.
At the back of the main temple, there was a wall of with many inscriptions and statues of 36 disciples that are believed to be able to save people from worldly desires. I found these statues to be very interesting as each had a very distinct character.
There were two ponds with rocks and as people passed they would toss coins and attempt to make them land on the rocks. I failed…my coins ended up in the water.
I found it fascinating to observe the people in the park. I know very little about Buddhism, and I chose not to enter any of the temples since I didn’t want to do anything that would be disrespectful towards the people inside. However, I was glad I took the time to witness some of their rituals, and I hope to find a guide next time who could explain the significance of what I was seeing.