In addtion to the (semi) regular posts about character insights, with today’s update we’re starting a series of (irregular) posts about the the places and folklore mentioned in Lost Innocence. This introductory entry deals with a key temple mentioned in Chapter 1 (you have read it, haven’t you?), the Rokudo Chinno-ji.
The Rokudo Chinno-ji (六道珍皇寺) is, as the name suggests, a Buddhist temple (Kennin-ji school of the Rinzai sect) located in Kyoto, on the eastern side of the Kamo river (in the Higashyama ward). The Rokudo (六道) in the name mean “six ways”, and refers to the six states (or “realms”) where living beings can transmigrate to after death, according to their deeds. In fact, there’s even a rock in front of the temple that mentions this feature, the “intersection of the six roads” (六道の辻).
This temple’s history has a few interesting features that made it perfect for being the stage of some events of the story. First of all, it was established very early in the history of Japan (between 834 and 844 AD). Secondly, during the Heian period, burial grounds and crematories were on the same side of the Kamo river as this temple. At the time, there was also a large burial mound called Toribeno near the Chinno-ji. Therefore, it was believed the Kamo River and the temple areas were borders between this world and “the other world”.
There’s another legend that puts this temple truly at a crossway between the human world and the world of the dead. In the grounds there is a well, called 冥土通いの井戸 (Meido gayoi no ido, the well that leads to the underworld). Why did it get this fancy name? During the Heian period (794-1185), there was this scholar and poet called Ono no Takamura (Wikipedia has more information on him if you’re curious): he was believed to be that good at his job that every night he would climb down the well at the Chinno-ji, because that well actually led to the underworld. There he would help Enma, king of hell, to carry out his judgments. He would then get out every morning from another temple in Sagano (which no longer exists).
And what about today? Roku-san, as the temple is also called, hosts an event called Rokudo mairi (visit to Rokudo), during the Obon period (in this specific case, between 7th and 10th August every year), when people come to the temple to welcome their ancestors, by ringing a peculiar bell called 迎え鐘(mukaegane or greeting bell), which is believed to resonate to the other world.
So that’s it for now. For the next instalment, we’ll look at some of the creatures not from this world that make their appearance in the story: the yokai.
- Japanese Wikipedia page on the Chinno-ji
- Yokai.com’s entry on Ono no Takamura
- This page (in Italian) has some information on the well
- English Wikipedia entry on Ono no Takamura
- Information on the temple as of today
- Pictures at Wikimedia Commons
- Kyoto Style (Italian) has information on the mairi
This is Part 1 in a 1-Part series.
- Part 1: The folklore of Lost Innocence: the Rokudo Chinno-ji
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