I debated about this for a little while and then decided I should just do it. As it states in my intro, I love to travel. I especially love to travel and take photos and experience local foods. So.... a post about my travels every now and then won't be weird...right?
Last year I went up north with my friend Tina and her husband to visit our friends, Courtney and Tom. We were going to climb Mt Fuji together (maybe I should write about that crazy experience....), but we also had some sightseeing planned.
The day before our climb, we headed over to Kamakura. I was super excited because I had never been and it was on my super long list of places to visit. Our friend Courtney had told us about the temple book (shuin-cho) she got when she was visiting Kyoto. I had never heard of a temple book so I was pretty intrigued and once I looked at hers, I was hooked. She said she carries her book with her everywhere and she gets a stamp (shuin) from each temple and shrine she visits. I knew I had to get my own shuin-cho! It's quite beautiful and I really love to watch them add my shuin when I am able to. Someone at the temple places a stamp or two onto your book and then writes in calligraphy, the name of the temple and the date. There is typically a 300yen charge for each shuin. I have heard that there are some that are more expensive, but so far all of mine have been 300yen. Some places will ask you to leave your book and come back in a few minutes. It hasn't happened to me too many times, but it does happen. They will not allow you to take photos. I have tried a few times and most places have a sign posted stating no pictures allowed. I even asked if I could just take a photo of their hands as they worked on my shuin, but I was told that was not possible either.
It is such a great souvenir for yourself to remember your time here in Japan, and all of the temples and shrines you visited while here. I also think it's a great gift to give someone visiting you or just arriving to Iwakuni! Kind of a "Welcome to Iwakuni" gift!
My excitement level for travel is always already super high (dancing around the room and jumping up and down while squealing - high), and I try to go somewhere every weekend. Even if it's some place close by that I have already been to many times. I love going to the same places over and over again, but at different times of the year. Where was I going with this?.... OH! Yes. My excitement level is even higher now (I know that just doesn't sound possible, but it's true) and I am constantly looking for new temples and shrines to visit. More stamps for my book!!!!! It also leads me to places I have never been. I have added quite a few places to my very long list.... sometimes I wonder if I will ever get through it. Part of me hopes I don't... what will I do then?? I'll have to move or something. Well, I do have to go back to a lot of the temples and shrines I visited before I got my shuin-cho. This means I will have to add to my list again.... maybe I won't ever have to move after all.
When I was in Kyoto last November with Courtney and Tina, I forgot my temple book (wouldn't be the first time...*sigh*). I ended up buying a book at Kiyomizu Dera (one of the most famous places in Kyoto) because I couldn't stand the thought of not getting any shuins while I was there, or buying the loose paper with the shuin on it that I would have to glue down into my book when I got home. The shuin-cho there is a little bit smaller than the one I bought in Kamakura so it fits nicely in my purse. Hopefully this means that I won't forget my book anymore! However, now you know that even if you forget your book, you can still get a shuin for it.
Here are some pictures of my temple book -
I try to be really good about writing down the name of the temple or shrine and the date I visited, on the bottom of the page. I did say "try" right?
You can buy a temple book at almost any temple or shrine, but some are definitely more ornate than others. Some are also more expensive than others. Courtney has filled one up already (I need to get busy and visit more temples and shrines!!) so she had to buy one when she came down for a visit. Her plan was to get one at the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island. Their book was very plain though so she decided to wait until we went to the Daisho-in Temple to see what theirs look like. Before heading there though, we stopped off at the Daigan Temple to check out their books. They have beautiful books there so she ended up getting one there for 1,000yen or so (I think it might have been around 1200 or 1300yen actually). I wish I would have taken a picture of her book. Mine was less than 1,000yen, but it is also not quite as pretty as Courtney's. I think I know where I'll be buying my next book...
Pick up a shuin-cho the next time you go to a temple or shrine and start collecting beautiful temple stamps! If you can't figure out where to go for a temple stamp, just say "shuin" and someone at the temple will point you in the right direction.