Otagi: Where Music and Buddhism Collide

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Spring has finally sprung in Japan. The season is already in full force as cherry blossoms bloomed much earlier than usual this year. Kyoto’s sudden burst of seasonal greenery is a time to rejoice and begin the seasonal cycle anew. There are a number of celebrations at this time of year, but some are more unique than others…

Last weekend, I headed up into the hills of western Kyoto to attend a small spring festival at Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple in Arashiyama. This is one of my favorite spots in Kyoto, and I’ve previously shared one of their other special events on this blog. This spring gathering was a new one for me, and it proved every bit as eclectic and special as I was expecting.

Officially called the Hana Matsuri (flower festival), this event is a mishmash of spring renewal celebration, music appreciation, and the birthday of Buddha. They’ve been holding this festival at Otagi Nenbutsuji for decades now, as part of the revitalization efforts of former head priest and famous artist Kocho Nishimura since he took over here in 1955. Nishimura …continue reading