Shakyamuni Pilgrimage in Kyoto and Nara

Although there is no long-established Shakyamuni pilgrimage in Japan, there are many images of the historical Buddha (Pali: Sakyamuni), some of them very old. Here is a selection of temples with images of Shakyamuni in locations where they are actively worshipped or displayed in temple treasure houses.

Senbon Shakado

Hondo at Senbon Shakado.

The most common image of Shakyamuni depicts him after his enlightenment and is known as Shaka Nyorai. Other less common images depict him as an infant (tanjo butsu) or a young prince. He may be flanked by two attendants, Fugen and Monju. Paintings of a "reclining Buddha" surrounded by ascetics, deities and animals depict his imminent death (parinirvana).

Temples in Kyoto Prefecture

Temples in Nara Prefecture

Some of these temples are on established pilgrimages, such as the Kyoto Jusan Butsu. Kyoto's Tourist Information Office can help with train and bus schedules, and how to reach the more remote temples.

Seiryoji Shaka Nyorai

The Seiryoji Shaka, a copy of the lost Udayana Buddha.

The basic procedure at each temple is to find the hall with the buddha image, toss some money into the donation box, ring the bell (actually a kind of gong that you strike with a vertical rope) three times and say a prayer. You may also light three incense sticks or three candles, the number representing the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. Not all of the temples have an image on display.