Fukugawa Fudo-san Temple (Narita-san)

FudoFireCeremony2

If you’d like to see a fire ceremony, make a wish at the dragon fountain, and say a prayer in the hall of the glow-in-the-dark saints, this is the temple for you!

Fire Ceremonies are held in the traditional temple building to the right; the hall of 10,000 fudo figures is in the modern building to the left. The characters on the outside are Sanskrit, and they spell out the Fudo Sutra.
Fire ceremonies are held in the traditional temple building to the right; the hall of 10,000 Fudo figures is in the modern building to the left.
If you think Buddhist ceremonies are all about serenity and Zen, it's time to meet the wild and wooly fire-breathing, taiko drumming version!
If you think Buddhist ceremonies are all about serenity and Zen, it’s time to meet the holy roller taiko drumming version!
Patrons pay to have the priest send their prayers to Fudo-san by tossing them on the bonfire in front of the altar.
Patrons pay to have the priest send their prayers to Fudo-san by tossing them on the bonfire in front of the altar.

Fire ceremonies are held five times daily (at 9:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00 and 17:00). Let’s take off our shoes (we can carry them in one of the plastic bags provided), then sneak into the side gallery and watch from the back, where we can look down on the altar area. The ceremony takes 30-60 minutes, and is filled with taiko drumming, chanting, the blowing of conch shells and the tossing of wooden prayer sticks into a bonfire that blazes up quite spectacularly in front of the altar.

Usually there are a group of dignitaries who have paid handsomely to sit in the middle seats and get special benefits from the service, but if we're lucky, eventually we'll see ordinary people around us getting in line to get their purses and wallets waved through the smoke from the flames. Let's join them, and get ourselves some good luck!
Usually there is a group of dignitaries who have paid handsomely to sit in the middle seats and get special benefits from the service, but if we’re lucky, eventually we’ll see ordinary people around us getting in line to get their purses and wallets waved through the smoke from the flames. Let’s join them, and get ourselves some good luck.

Note: It’s strictly forbidden to take photos and videos during the ceremonies, because they are actual religious services. I know it’s tempting, but please don’t be That Tourist. (The photos I’ve included here are icky and fuzzy because I got them from the temple’s website.)

Afterwards, let’s go into the big modern cube next door, the one with the Fudo sutra written all over the outside in giant Sanskrit characters.

Inside is a fantastic winding corridor lined floor to ceiling with 10,000 crystal figures of Fudo-san. See the 108 giant round beads on the wall? It's a huge Buddhist rosary, and the devout can pray as they walk along, beneath the gaze of the many Fudo-sans.
Inside is a fantastic winding corridor lined floor to ceiling with 10,000 crystal figures of Fudo-san. See the 108 giant round beads on the wall? It’s a huge Buddhist rosary, and the devout can pray as they walk along, beneath the gaze of the many Fudo-sans.
The ten thousand tiny statues are carved from the same 700-year-old cedar as the giant Fudo figure at the entrance. Each of these crystal figures can be sponsored as a memorial for a departed loved one.
The ten thousand tiny statues are carved from the same 700-year-old cedar as the giant Fudo figure at the entrance. Each of these crystal figures can be sponsored as a memorial for a departed loved one.
Now let's detour upstairs and see the room with the glow-in-the-dark gods.
Now let’s detour upstairs and see the room with the glow-in-the-dark gods.
Every one is different (that fiery guy is a representation of Fudo-san himself). Beneath each painting is an offering box and a prayer wheel you can spin.
Every one is different (that fiery guy is a representation of Fudo-san himself). Beneath each painting is an offering box and a prayer wheel you can spin.
The temple is filled with other truly gorgeous traditional representations of Buddhist deities, as well as the many figures of Fudo-san.
The temple is filled with other truly gorgeous traditional representations of Buddhist deities, as well as the many figures of Fudo-san.

Back outside, let’s not leave before we make a wish at the dragon fountain!

The three Shenzen dragons are said to grant wishes written on special paper you can buy for ¥100, if they dissolve completely in the fountain. See the ones floating on top of the water, near the end?
The three Shenzen dragons are said to grant wishes written on special paper you can buy for ¥100, if they dissolve completely in the fountain. See the ones floating on top of the water, near the end?
The table for buying paper and writing wishes is to the left of the fountain.
The table for buying paper and writing wishes is to the left of the fountain.

MAP

Here’s more to do in the neighborhood, while you’re there:

And just for fun, here are the eleven strangest shrines in Tokyo, with all the inside scoop on the resident gods’ superpowers

Click here for more

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