A Birthday Celebrated at Jindai-Ji Temple- Japan

In the immortal words of Stevie Wonder celebrated in Song-

“Happy Birthday Bud-dha, Happy Birthday Bud-dha, Happy Birth…day!”

According to “experts” April 8th is the big day for Budhha. Not knowing much about the most righteous Buddha or any of his rousing incarnations, I started with Wikipedia where I confirmed that as with many of the world’s major religions, Buddhism was started by a man who if operating in the current day, would be put on a cocktail of FDA approved drugs, assigned a state funded psychiatrist, and encouraged to permanently co-habitate with altruistic family to prevent his future demise in to the ranks of homeless and starving. In Buddha’s case, he was determined to be legitimate via an assemblage of birthmarks thus the emergence of modern day Buddhism circa 400 BC.

Although not a follower of Buddha, I am a firm believer in celebrating birthdays. Especially Christmas. The American way. Materialistically. And with overeating. To celebrate the birthday of Buddha, a bunch of folks went to the second oldest temple in Tokyo- Jindai-Ji Temple in Chofu.

This temple was built around 700 AD and is affectionately referred to as the “Lover’s Temple.” (Spouse couldn’t make it.) Named because it was built in honor of two star crossed lovers who shared a forbidden passion, unable to marry with their parents’ blessing due to class difference, they ran away and had a child together. Eventually, the father of one of the young lovers built this temple in their honor- the entire center of the story is indeed missing and if anyone knows the gory details please share. BUT- young couple do go here to have marriages blessed.

Unlike a Shinto shrine, which is marked by a Tori gate, (looks like an upside down U) Jindai-Ji has a thatched roof gate entrance which illicited visions of angry Frankenstein hunters throwing flaming torches:

As always when entering a shrine or temple, there is an area where one washes hands and rinses out the mouth in order to cleanse prior to entering.

Let the celebration begin! With utmost reverence and respect, we poured sweet tea all over Buddha’s head several times.

Then we drank the sweet tea in honor of Buddha’s birthday- naturally sweetened with flowers. Everyone lied and exclaimed how “delicious” it was. I felt sure it would be the cause of my entrance in to the pet cemetery on the temple grounds as its newest permanent resident.

Unable to assume the Lotus position without splitting my skinny jeans from the calves up, I opted to skip the optional chant. Apparently the rest of the group was looking for a skapegoat to prune the party in order to overeat. We sprinted to the soba noodle shop so we could enjoy the cherry blossoms in full bloom on a full stomach.

Happy Birthday Buddha.

Main Jindai-Ji Temple

Red Bibs represent Babies, Bottom left Bell was buried up to circle opening and used as a cross to pray during times when early Christians were not allowed in Japan.

"The Dragons Mouth" Bell

Soba Noodles- The Local Specialty around Jindai-Ji Temple

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

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26 Responses to A Birthday Celebrated at Jindai-Ji Temple- Japan

  1. LOL An astute observation re: deities and mental health!

    Beautiful photos of cherry blossoms! See it is possible to sneak some nature into your posts.


    • amblerangel says:

      I really wish Spouse would let me get my hands on his nice camera but the last time it didn’t turn out so well… Now I’m trying to talk him into getting a new one so I can take his old one- better pictures may await!


  2. Beautiful pictures.
    Happy Birthday Buddha.

    : )


  3. Lisa says:

    What a lovely day. I truly miss Cherry Blossom season. Interesting observation about the way our world would treat the appearance of any spiritual beings who might decide to grace us with their presence.


  4. It is also honorable of you to honor your host country traditions uh honorably. It’s just a word that keeps coming up that says so much about the Japenese. And
    your pics are great,


  5. jacquelincangro says:

    It seems so peacful and quiet. Were not a lot of people out that day or is that typical of the Buddha’s birthday celebration? Very different from most Western celebrations.

    Interesting how the Buddha statues are dressed in red for the occasion.

    I loved the photos, bad camera and all. More, please. 🙂


    • amblerangel says:

      I don’t know- nothing is typical now as no one is really going out- even the government urged the citizens not to enjoy the usual festivities around the cherry blossom season in order to mourn those lost in the tsunamis.

      Anyone know the answer to this?


  6. Great post! Love your observations about Buddha and mental health–sounds like my kinda guy! Reminds me a bit of the Temple of Literature in Hanoi. And the cherry blossoms–beautiful!


  7. Dana says:

    Yay for birthdays! And so true about the men behind the world’s major religions… good luck trying to garner a gigantic religious following today (and still be considered sane and/or NOT a megalomaniac!) 😉


  8. Michi says:

    The temple grounds are gorgeous, and I love how you almost always manage to squeeze in a food picture! Happy Birthday Buddha!


  9. I like how birthday is a birthday in any culture, it is about celebrating and eating! Love the pictures!


  10. Tori Nelson says:

    I wish people showered me with sweet tea on my birthday. Lucky 🙂


  11. judithhb says:

    Thanks for the lovely photos. I was in Japan only very briefly ,many years ago. But I do remember the peace when we walked around the garden (can’t remember its name) and admired the cherry blossoms in Kyoto. I also remember the trees with little notes fluttering on them. After so long I just cant remember why people wrote these notes andput them on trees.


    • amblerangel says:

      Ah! Those are the fortunes the monks write on paper- if the fortune is good, you keep it. If it is bad, it gets folded, tied to a tree, and offered to the gods for intervention… Kyoto is THE PLACE for cherry blossoms!


  12. Michi says:

    I saw this just now and thought of you! The Meat Monster – currently only available in Japan!



  13. paulshistoryofwar says:

    Your entries and pictures are great. Buddhas birthday and his various temples are places and time for great chantings of the Orange Robed Masses. They have no problems with splitting their jeans. Your stories are an inspiration to visit Japan and fortunately I have no grandmas to wear out or anklebiters to entertain, though your thoughts on how to keep them under control are welcomed. I have noted that whenever I allow my spouse to use my camera the pictures turn out rather strange and blurry. I have yet to find a digital camera that just takes pictures you know “point and shoot”.
    Keep up the good work and keep the photos coming



    • amblerangel says:

      Paul- the ultimate Compliment is your saying that this blog encourages a visit to Japan! Oh- I just bought a new camera – one that I hope will compensate for any lack of artistic vision I might have but will in the end take a good picture! Thanks for reading.


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