There are thousands of temples in Kyoto so this tiny Kyoto hidden gem is easy to miss!
Located in Higashiyama area in Kyoto, the colorful Yasaka Koshindo (八坂庚申堂, official name: Daikoku-san Kongo-ji Koshin-do) temple or “pom pom temple” should definitely be added to your bucket list, especially if you are looking for a unique place to take amazing travel photos.
It is in Nineizaka street, hence very close by Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the Yasaka Pagoda of Hokan-ji Temple, so don’t forget to stop by it when you visit the area!
You might have seen that in other temples in Japan, visitors usually hang paper strips (omikuji) or write their wishes on a wooden plaque (ema) talisman to hang for good luck.
In Yasaka Koshindo Temple, you can write your wish on a vibrant “pom pom” ball made of fabric called kukurizaru (500 yen).
If you look up close, you’ll notice that these balls are not perfectly round but represent in fact monkeys with bound hands and feet. Like monkeys, who move around a lot, people’s hearts and mind are always restless. The kukurizaru symbolizes self-control over playfulness and desire.
You are supposed to write a desire on the kukurizaru and leave it at the temple. The monkeys will pass it on to Koshin-san, who will try to bind your heart so that it does not become filled with greed.
When you feel agitated and desire-driven, remember Koshin-san’s scary face and warn yourself against pursuing this greed (since Koshin-san is also thought to punish the bad), control yourself and turn your feelings into ambition! If you succeed to control your greed and become a better person, the warrior will grant you a wish.
This unique custom is definitely worth a try! And you might see a lot of Japanese couples visiting this temple wearing beautiful yukatas, making the whole experience even more of a rainbow photoshop paradise.
Yasaka Koshindo Temple
- 8min walk from Koyomizu-dera
- 1min walk from Hokan-ji Temple (Yasaka Pagoda)
- 20min from Kyoto Station: take the bus No.206 from Kyoto Eki mae stop to Kiyomizumichi stop, then walk 4min