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In the Red: Collecting Goshuin in Kyoto

In the Red: Collecting Goshuin in Kyoto
  • When traveling in Kyoto, one is reminded of the pilgrims and visitors that have been coming to the city for a millenia. Many remembered their trip with a shuin: written with two Chinese characters meaning “red stamp,” the shuin, or, carrying the honorific prefix, goshuin, is a unique stamp for the temple or shrine, with calligraphy written in black ink around and over it. There is no better place to collect goshuin than in Kyoto.

    A small donation is required to receive the goshuin, and, at busier sites, one is often given a number upon submitting the book and given a return time. Sites sell their own goshuincho, the notebook dedicated to stamp collection. The goshuincho are generic, save the cover, often bearing an image of the temple, but are the only medium that most temple writers will see fit to leave their mark in. Both Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples offer goshuin, and what follows is a mere sampling of sites in Kyoto to have one’s goshuincho inked.

    Yasui Konpiragu

    Yasui Konpiragu

    On the east bank of the Kamo River, in Gion, once the haunt of geisha and revelers, a Shinto shrine, Yasui Konpiragu, has gained fame for its wish granting megalith: whether seeking to secure a good relationship or end a bad one, pilgrims make their entreaty before crawling through the hole and back again, then affixing their katashiro to the stone’s paper mane.

    In the Red: Collecting Goshuin in Kyoto

    In the Red: Collecting Goshuin in Kyoto

    At this Shinto shrine that has become a place of pilgrimage for lovelorn girls and women, the goshuincho, offered in sedate, feminine shades, have become something of a collector’s item. The shrine’s treasure ship stamp is distinctive and should bring good luck: it is the Takarabune that Seven Lucky Gods are said to pilot through the heavens during first three days of the New Year, dispensing good fortune.

    In the Red: Collecting Goshuin in Kyoto

    In the Red: Collecting Goshuin in Kyoto

    At nearby Yasaka Shrine, one of the most famous shrines in the nation for its Gion Matsuri, the crowds during the high season can mean that there will be a wait to have one’s goshuincho marked with the writers’ clear eyed sumi ink text. This is a highly coveted stamp for anyone that totes a goshuincho. Over a stamp bearing the current name of the shrine is calligraphy bearing the original name: Gionsha.

    In the Red: Collecting Goshuin in Kyoto

    In the Red: Collecting Goshuin in Kyoto

    A fifteen minute walk Gion, Kiyomizudera Temple is known for the views from its hillside perch, as well as the Otowa Waterfall, the source of the temple’s name (literally, “pure water temple”). At Kiyomizudera, one has the option of selecting eight inscriptions, written with customary flourish by the temple monks.

    In the Red: Collecting Goshuin in Kyoto

    In the Red: Collecting Goshuin in Kyoto

    Kenkun Shrine in the city's northwest enshrines Oda Nobunaga, one of the attempted unifiers of Japan, as well as one of the first Japanese collectors of European art. The shrine’s stamps are particularly beautiful and can be secured for a donation of 300 or 500 yen, depending on the design chosen.

    Kinkakuji Kyoto

    Kinkakuji Kyoto

    Yukio Mishima in The Temple of the Golden Pavilion put in the protagonist’s mouth the description of Kinkakuji as being “like some beautiful ship crossing the sea of time. … In the daytime, this strange ship lowered its anchor with a look of innocence and submitted to being viewed by crowds of people: but when night came, the surrounding darkness lent the ship a new force and it floated away…” Kinkakuji is iconic. It would be a shame not to collect a souvenir!

    In the Red: Collecting Goshuin in Kyoto

    In the Red: Collecting Goshuin in Kyoto

    The flowing lines of the calligraphy are a fitting reminder of the elegance of the gleaming pavilion. There is no finer way to remember one’s to Kinkakuji, or the many other temples and shrines of Kyoto, than by selecting a goshuincho and collecting unique stamps and calligraphy.

    祇園
    Address
    京都府京都市東山区祇園町南側
    Phone
    075-752-0227
  • Yasui Konpiragu Shrine
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Shimobentenchou 70
    Phone
    0755615127
    Yasaka-jinja Shrine (Gion Shrine)
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Gionmachikitagawa 625
    Phone
    0755616155
    Kiyomizu-dera Temple
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Kiyomizu 1-294
    Phone
    0755511234
    音羽の滝
    Address
    京都府京都市東山区清水1丁目1
    Phone
    075-343-6655
    Kenkun-jinja Shrine
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Kita-ku Murasakinokitafunaokachou 49
    Phone
    0754510170
  • Rokuon-ji Temple (Kinkaku-ji Temple)
    Address
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Kita-ku Kinkakujichou 1
    Phone
    0754610013
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