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Evil cometh from the north, they say. Maybe it was sunlight streaming from the south that gave ancient theologians such a notion. Or perhaps the Arctic is gushing malevolence (compare and contrast: Australians and Scandinavians). Regardless, it was a fear of southbound evil that prompted the construction of Kanga-an, a small but majestic temple north of the old Imperial Palace in Kyoto.

In the 17th century, retired Emperor Go Mizuno asked the chief priest of Manpuku-ji, an Obaku sect Zen temple in nearby Uji, to open Kanga-an and enshrine the Holy Spirit of Residential Protection, Chintakurefushin. Chintaku is thought to bear the impressive burden of controlling the movements of the universe, guarding the zodiac, expelling evil spirits and “protecting people from the wrong direction.”

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