Thursday, October 6, 2011

Religion: A Sightseeing Thing?

Religion in Japan is a very interesting concept. The various Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines go way back in history, and have a lot of culture value instilled in them. However, oftentimes, especially with the more famous temples, they become tourist attractions. The first picture is of the interior of Itsukushima Shrine, the site of the famous big red torii in the water. The island itself is sacred, and yet now there are all sorts of people walking around every which way, taking pictures and posing with the temples. I am of course guilty of this as well, but the point is that the shrine has become a very touristy place. You can buy various charms and such from stores inside the shrine itself.

The second picture was taken in front of Zenkoji, a famous Buddhist temple in Nagano. It is very famous, and there were many visitors when we came to see it. You can see in the picture the traditional buildings in the back contrasted with the touristy souvenir booths on the left. Many of the more famous religious sites in Japan are like this, particularly Kinkakuji. The tourism is not necessarily a bad thing, as it brings people to these sites where they can hopefully learn something of their religious and cultural significance.

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