Before the days of iced drinks and air conditioning, the Japanese resorted to several creative methods for staying cool in the summer heat. One such method involved the hanging of wind chimes, whose delicate sound allegedly eased the listeners’ seasonal suffering.
Whether wind chimes make you feel cooler or not, there’s no denying their beauty, especially when displayed in large numbers. From June 26th until July 17th, five hundred wind chimes are strung across the temple grounds of Ikegami Honmonji at the top of the long staircase that leads to the Niomon Gate.
The beautiful bells, forged with Nambu iron that is sourced from northern Iwate Prefecture, are adorned with the written wishes of locals and visitors. The delicate ringing sound one hears when the breeze swirls through the display is at a frequency that some researchers claim is beneficial to the listener’s health.
The festival, now in its fourth decade, used to be held later in the summer, but the droning sound of the area’s many cicada ended up cancelling out any calming effect from the chimes!
On Sundays until July 17th, tables are set up on the temple grounds that allow visitors to decorate and write down their wishes on clear strips of paper. These colorful hopes are then attached to the iron bells.
Sunday visitors can also avail themselves of the temple’s free tour guide service, available in English, French and Chinese between the hours of 10am and 3pm. These friendly and knowledgeable local volunteers share fascinating tidbits about the temple grounds, from the secrets of the construction of the temple’s five-story pagoda to the stories behind the temple’s treasures.