Tourists were given a rare treat Sunday when Kyoto’s Nishi Honganji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, opened its centuries-old Karamon gate for the first time in 34 years.
“This is my hometown but it is the first time for me to see the gate open. I feel happy to be able to walk through a time-honored gate,” 52-year-old civil servant Yasuo Onoki said.
The decorative gate, adorned with colorful carvings of birds, lions, tigers and peacocks, among other animals, is thought to have been built in the Momoyama Period (1573-1615) and is designated as a national treasure.
The temple, which belongs to the Jodo Shinshu school of Buddhism, decided to let visitors to walk through it to mark the birthday of Shinran, its founder, who was born in 1173.
According to the temple, the 8.7-meter-high, 5.4-meter-wide gate was last opened in 1983 during a rite related to Shinran.
A group of priests and other temple officials walked through the gate at around 9 a.m., followed by a crowd of tourists. The special one-day event precedes a renovation project set to begin in June 2018.