Given that there is a Russian Cathedral in Ochanomizu, a Turkish Mosque in Yoyogi and many Chinese temples in Yokohama, I’m really not sure why I was surprised to see a Taiwanese temple in Japan. I guess it was more to do with it’s rather out-of-place location up in Saitama prefecture.
Wakaba station is certainly no strange place but this temple, known locally as Seitenkyū, is a very long distance from the station. It’s about 40 minutes away on foot though I’m sure there are buses too as it is located alongside a fairly major road. Feeling at a bit of a loose end one day back in January and ever keen to find new places along the Tobu Toju line, I decided to finally tick this place off my list of places to go and so headed north from the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre in Itabashi-ku to see what it was all about. It has to be said that part of this place’s appeal for me was that it was in the middle of nowhere!
What I wasn’t expecting on arrival was to have to cough up 500 yen for entrance but as I’d made such an effort to get that far I wasn’t going to stubbornly refuse to pay it! For free though you can still admire its wonderful exterior and the yellow roof tiles which are only used for temples and Emperor’s homes!
A couple of years ago I made something of an effort to visit Longshan Temple in Taipei which is the most famous temple in Taipei with a rich history. This one’s history was far from rich though as it has only been around since 1995 following 15 years of building work. What is interesting is that the main hall was built without any nails which sounds just like was done with Kintai-kyo Bridge in Yamaguchi prefecture.
Like many temples, there were some rather bizarre food and drink offerings that had been left at the altar. There seemed to be a lot of alcohol at this particular one! I’m not sure what happens to these offerings after they’ve been there for a while!!
This Taoist temple’s sculptures are impressive and the stone pillar carvings are elaborate. If you’re wondering what the hell Taosim is then let me be the one to tell you that it’s one of the three main religions of China. Unlike Japanese buddhist temples which are oriented mostly for the afterlife and for worshipping of ancestors, Taoist temples are for worshipping of gods and people pray for the protection and improvement of their present life. Now you know!
Two towers to the side of the temple can be ascended via narrow winding steps and they offer views of the surrounding area…not that there’s too much to see! I can’t remember exactly but one, if not both towers possess giant bells which ring daily at 3pm but I really wasn’t prepared to wait around for a couple of hours more to hear it. After all, it’s just a bell and I think I know what it sounds like!
One doesn’t usually take photos of toilets which is difficult to believe maybe given that my wife and I went to a Toilet themed restaurant in Taipei a couple of years back. This time I was just intrigued by the painted signs distinguishing the sex of the toilets.
A room to the left of the main hall contains chairs, books, pamphlets and maps about Taiwan and best of all there was a vending machine stocked full of Taiwanese snacks and beverages.
Seitenkyū can be found at 51-1 Tsukagoshi, Sakado-shi, Saitama-ken.
Bonus: There aren’t a huge amount of Taiwanese restaurants in Tokyo but one of the most famous is Din Tai Fung (11am – 10pm) which is on the 13th floor of the Tobu Department store above JR Ikebukuro station and once featured in this ‘Dining Out: Around The World…In Tokyo! Pt I‘ compilation post in December 2012.
Click here to read ‘TF Top 10…….Saitama Sights’
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