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2019/10/10 14:50:00 Kyoto Seen from the Camera Lenses: Ninnaji Temple Part I

  • Categoryお知らせ
  • Posted byStudent Reporter
Hello. We are Nanami Shimaoka and Ayumi Uratani, 2nd year students at the Department of Global Tourism Stuides.

Today, we are going to report on our visit to Ninnaji Temple, a world heritage site near our university in Ukyo-ku, Kyoto. Ninnaji Temple is known as the head temple of the Omuro School of the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Our blog series of “Kyoto seen through the camera lens” have introduced sight seeing spots in Kyoto from the perspectives of student reporters. However, for this time, thanks to "Tomorrow's Kyoto Cultural Heritage," we were fortunate to be given a chance to interview Rev. Gishin Kanazaki who oversees the temple’s property management. We prepared a set of questions and sent them to Rev. Kanazaki in advance, and he has prepared answers for our questions. Moreover, we were lucky enough to hear very interesting stories from him on the site, which almost transformed our images of a Japanese Buddhist temple.

Today, we are going to report on his prepared replies to our preliminary questions. We made a questionnaire based on our interest in what kind of impressions that the staff of Ninnaji have had on foreign tourists and young Japanese visitors. Here are our questions and the replies from Rev. Kanazaki.

1. What do you find challenging when dealing with foreign tourists?

Language barriers

2. We often hear complaints about foreign tourists’ “bad” manners, but could you tell us about your insight?

(The opinions gathered from the staff)It is true that we observe foreign tourists’ violations of manners frequently. However, we don’t take them as “bad manners” as we see them as a matter of intercultural communication. Rather, the unfavorable manners shown by a handful of Japanese visitors tend to catch our attention. In many cases, foreign visitors are simply not aware of certain cultural rules. So, when we explain what they should and shouldn’t do, we have the impression that most of them correct their mannerisms and show their apologies. For this reason, we need to show some kind gestures by showing guides and introductions to basic cultural manners and ways of worshipping.


3. How do you feel about those who visit the temple for sightseeing?

There is a reality in which the temple serves not only as a place that caters for the religious needs of people but also as one of Kyoto’s tourism resources.

4. How do you think about young Japanese tourists visiting the temple? Particularly, many young people put up photographs on Instagram and other SNS applications, and I believe some of them take a photograph of themselves at the temple. How do you view this kind of tendency?

I don’t think the behavior of spreading information via SNS is bad. If the problem is about people who do not abide by manners and rules associated with photo-shooting or photo-purchasing, we could only grant permission to those who have agreed to abide by the rules and manners. I think it is our side of responsibility to set rules for them.

5. Is there any basic knowledge (such as the temple’s history and Buddhist sects) that young people like us should have when visiting the temple?

The foundation of the temple is the religious doctrine. All the cultural and historical assets such as the canon, building, garden, treasure, historical documents stem from there. That is a symbol of Japanese cultural identity as well as a rich treasury of artifacts that were developed with skills over time and documents that record historical facts.

Although it is said that more and more people have stayed away from religions, we hope that you will notice about a number of religious practices and symbols that exist in your everyday life. If that happens, you will be able to better recognize and pay more respect to the canon and doctrines of the temple by understanding the historical backgrounds and comparing the past with the present. It will also lead us to propagating the religious faith.

As shown above, the questions we prepared in advance focused around the mannerisms of the foreign tourists and young Japanese visitors. However, when we actually met Rev. Kanazaki, he also generously shared his views on the management of the temple Ninnaji. We’ll continue to report on our interview with him next time focusing on his perspective on treasury management.
  • Immersed in the atmosphere of serenity
  • Posing in front of the main gate
  • We also met Rev. Oishi

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