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Ryuzenji Temple

A famous temple in the south of Hamamatsu

If you’re ever wandered around Japan, you know that amidst the skyscrapers and rows of houses, you'll always come across a shrine or temple. Ryuzenji (translates as dragon zen) temple is in the middle of the Ryuzenji-cho, a large suburb of Hamamatsu. Ask any of the locals and they will at least know of it. Finding it can be slightly more complicated. The No 5 bus stops near the temple (Ryuzenji Higashi), but you may have to walk around till you find the entrance.

The temple was originally built in 806 AD and it's one of the older temples of Hamamatsu (but not the oldest). In 1888 there was a fire at the temple so some reconstruction has taken place.

The entrance is on the north side, marked by a large red gate. The temple opens around 9 am and shuts between 5 and 6 pm (sunset) but is free to visit (unless you make an offering). The temple is not really tourist-oriented but more for the local population. It's mainly busy when a wedding or funeral takes place but nevertheless, it's a beautiful and spacious temple. Having been there several times, it's rare to see anyone else.

As you enter there are small ornate gardens and statues where you can pay your respects to the Gods. Towards the back is a large bell which is rung everyday around sunrise (I live near the temple and hear it every day….). There are several altars including one in the main building and one near the graveyard, both with large bells which you can ring to ‘wake up the Gods’ before praying.

What is very interesting about this place is the red colour that the buildings are painted which is reminiscent of the colour of Sensou-ji in Tokyo. It also has a striking green tile roof which is quite unique for a temple, as many tend to be painted/decorated in dark muted colours. It's a very quiet and serene place to visit. Towards the back there's a large graveyard, and another small shrine with a torii gate. As the style of the buildings is different in this area, the two may not be connected, but it’s still a nice place to see while you’re here.

Although this is not so much a touristy place, if you're looking for a quiet place to reflect then Ryuzenji temple might offer some respite in an otherwise hectic vacation schedule!

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