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Saidoji Temple: Walk through the white gates

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By Elizabeth Sok

With a long corridor of white torii (gates typically found at Shinto shrines), Saidoji Temple in Okayama Prefecture has recently become a popular spot for people looking to walk the unique feature. Add in stunning seasonal flowers and a long history and this site has lots to offer for friends of flora and Japanese culture.

Temple Background

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The temple was reorganized under the Soto sect, the largest of the traditional Zen Buddhism sects. Image: PIXTA/papa88

The origins of Saidoji stretch back more than a thousand years to the Nara period. Two prominent figures in Japanese Buddhism in the eighth century were central to the creation of this temple. Gyoki, also considered the grandfather of Japanese mapmaking, created a hermitage on the site in the 730s. Kobo Daishi, known for founding a new Buddhist sect upon returning from a pilgrimage to China, transformed Gyoki’s hermitage into a proper temple called Saidoji in 811.

According to the legends surrounding the creation of Saidoji, locals asked Kobo Daishi to help with the problem of infant mortality in the area. Kannon, the Buddhist deity of mercy, was enshrined at the site and Saidojihas been associated with safe childbirth ever since. Centuries later during the Edo period, the temple was reorganized under the Soto sect, the largest of the traditional Zen Buddhism sects.

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© GaijinPot

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