July 21, 2012

A Temple for Turtles

Shinjoin, a tiny Buddhist temple located right next to the famous Yushima Tenjin Shrine.

It must be about one-tenth the size of Yushima Tenjin, but is impeccably designed. And no wonder: the newly renovated temple was unveiled less than a year ago, in November 2011.

As beautiful as Yushima Tenjin is, I immediately grew fond of this little temple when I looked into the tiny man-made pond and saw that it was essentially a haven for turtles. Look at the turtle crossing the bridge!

Turtles, which are thought to be auspicious and bring good health, have been kept in this area since the 17th century. This little bridge is called Kamenokohashi, or "Turtle Bridge". Notice the golden turtles positioned on top of the posts.

It turned out, there were five to six turtles of varying sizes, and they spent their time shuffling from one small pond to the other via the bridge. They tended to move slowly, and would often turn around before reaching their destination, resulting in pile-ups and confusion.

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