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Friday, October 21, 2011

Gatekeeper at Ninnaji Temple

Nio-san Ninnaji Temple仁和寺の正門

Ninnaji Temple is one of Kyoto's great religious sites.

Located in western Kyoto, the temple was first a summer home for the imperial family. Every summer, the Emperor, his family and retainers, would decamp from the Imperial Palace and spend summers in a slightly cooler part of Kyoto to avoid pestilence.

In 886 C.E., however, Emperor Koko ordered the construction of a temple on these grounds. He died prior to its completion.

His successor, Emperor Uda, witnessed the completion of the temple in 888, and named it "Ninna" temple. From 888 until 1869 Emperors sent a son to act as head priest.

During the disastrous Onin War, in 1467, Ninnaji was destroyed by fire and fighting.

It took some 150 year to rebuild the temple. Most of the buildings today date from the 17th century.

The entrance of the temple is a massive "mon," or gate. It is protected on two sides by wooden sculptures known as "nio-san."

These are large fearsome deities that greet - and warn - all visitors.

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