The Hongwanji Temple is an elegant Buddhist temple located in central Tokyo, a short walking distance from the world famous Tsukiji fish market. This is the third iteration of the temple, with the first located in Asakusa and the second located in the same location as it is currently in. This version is renowned for its unique design and style. It is heavily influenced by the temple styles found all across India. This style serves to set it apart from the many other Buddhist temples found in Tokyo. The temple is quite large with a tall open-air entry leading to the main hall where members and other guests come to pay their respects or participate in temple services and ceremonies.
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The tour is about 2 hours long, starting at 7pm and finishing around 9pm. You will learn about the temple and its rich history. Afterwards you will be able to watch a live Buddhist Gagaku Sutra performance in person. You will learn about each of the instruments used in the performance, including the temple’s massive organ. After the performance, you can take photos near the main object of worship at the temple with the Buddhist priests.
This tour is perfect for those interested in religion and history. You will get a chance to feel a traditional ceremony up close and personal. Don’t miss this unique chance to see a Buddhist ceremonial concert at one the most famous Buddhist temples in Tokyo.
Explanation of The Temple and Concert
Upon arriving at the temple, you will be greeted by your guide who will take you to a waiting area inside the temple. There, your guide will explain the evening’s night concert program. Then you will finally enter the main hall of Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple where you will be spending the rest of the evening.
Short Video About Tsukiji Hongwanji
Though this is a temple, it is infused with a sense of the modern world. There are a few TV monitors in the main hall and on these there will be a short informational video detailing some of the history of the temple and its surrounding area.
After talking with your guide and hearing more about the temple’s rich history, the performers will approach the stage. This is a very intimate experience and you can see how detailed and well-prepared everything is to ensure such a smooth process. One by one, the members will take the stage and walk to their place. Each instrument will be explained in detail and there will be a short demonstration for each one. You will be able to enjoy the harmony of the three gagaku instruments later on.
Sutra Chanting and Gagaku and Pipe Organ Performance
This is it. The performance that you have been anticipating. To start, there will be some Buddhist chanting. This is the chant of the traditional Buddhist mantra for this specific Buddhist sect. After chanting, the performers will begin to play together in a unique way that takes your mind for a walk back into ancient Japan and what a different world it was then. Let your mind roam with images of cherry blossoms and rivers as you immerse yourself into the music.
Pipe Organ Performance
After the Buddhist musical memorial service, you will be given an introduction about the temple’s very own pipe organ. An astonishing piece of equipment perched right above the entryway of the main hall. Learn about its history and role in the temple ceremonies and performances. This pipe organ was a gift to the temple and is estimated to be worth upwards of twenty-thousand US dollars. Quite an expensive feature! The organ trumpets, blasts and booms its way through the halls of the temple spilling out of the windows like smoke escaping. This may be very reminiscent or may feel like a typical church performance in western culture. It’s almost a surreal feeling seeing such a modern piece of musical equipment interact so gracefully with more traditional instruments and sounds.
Special Gagaku and Pipe Organ Performance
Now that you are familiar with the organ, the Gagaku performance can resume with the final piece to complete the swirling puzzle of sounds emitting into the night air and complementing each other ever so gently. The dynamic produced has a hint of western flavor to expand upon the traditional sounds created by these Japanese instruments from the days of the past.
When the performance reaches its conclusion you can bask in what will surely be a memorable experience. But the tour doesn’t end just yet. You will have the chance to walk on the normally inaccessible tatami mats and get up close to the main object of worship(the big Buddha statue), as well as take some memorable photos with the priests. This is a rare opportunity to get some photos when the temple is not crowded. You can get the perfect shot. Although this is the end of the tour, you will always be welcome back at the temple, where the priests will be anxiously awaiting your next visit.
How To Book the Tour
This tour is a must for anyone that is interested in Buddhism, Japanese temples and history or Gagaku music. Booking a tour is simple and can be done from the comfort of your own home. Don’t miss this opportunity while you’re visiting Tokyo. Have a look at and book the tour below!
Japan Wonder Travel Tours in Tokyo
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