If you are deep in the heart of Kyoto’s CBD/shopping district and in need of some light relief  – make a bee-line to Rokkaku-do (on Rokkaku dori –  just east of Karasuma and south of Sanjo).  The temple is situated on the very spot believed to be the birthplace of Ikebana.

Rokkaku is named for the unusual shape of its hexagonal temple – Rokku meaning six. Its a small but cheery temple – with many jizou (protective deities) dressed in colourful clothing and hats to keep the popular soul “guides” comfortable on their journeys flitting between earth and the spirit world. While they help people of all ages they are particularly well respected for assisting sick or already passed over children. Red, as seen in their bibs is a colour believed by the Japanese to ward off negative spirits/energy/evil – however you like to term it!

Swans and large koi (carp) float around harmoniously in a large pond and for some reason the place is always swarming with pigeons who scamper under the weeping willow tied with paper omukuji (prayers and wishes). My guess is that someone is feeding them!

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