Aside from being polite, honest, and hard-working, Japanese people are also known to be incredibly community oriented. Even Japanese schools place a lot of emphasis on the primacy of grouping rather than on the individual. While this may or may not be a good thing, it certainly shows the collective thinking of Japanese people.
This trait among the modern-day Japanese can be traced back to as far as recorded history goes. The story behind the construction and preservation of Ninnaji Temple is one such example of the power of close bonds.
Ninnaji Temple – an iconic symbol of togetherness
To demonstrate how Japanese communities are close-knit, we have to look at two statues at the main entrance. The Agyo and Ungyo statues, two Guardian Warriors within Ninnaji temple, stand as a testament to togetherness. Agyo has its mouth open, making the sound of “Ah”, while Ungyo stands with its mouth closed, making the “Un” sound. It is said that “Ah” represents life, or the beginning, and “Un” represents death, or the end. Japanese people regard them as being in sync with each other and they symbolize the harmonic community-oriented society of Japan. The good combination without any words is a prime example of teamwork, isn’t it?
About Ninnaji Temple, Kyoto
Ninnaji serves as the headquarters of the Shingon-Shu Omuro-ha sect of Buddhism and has some of the oldest existing Shishinden architecture. It is one of the top places to visit in Kyoto and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Goten area of this precinct was once home to the Imperial chief priest or ‘Monzeki’ and has beautiful gardens overlooking ponds and majestic buildings. It was originally constructed as a summer home for the Imperial family, as they used to come here to avoid the summer heat.
Most of the buildings here were built in the 17th century (Edo period), but many have been reduced to dust by war and fires over the ages.
This would have never been possible if the powers-that-be did not see eye to eye or shared close relationships with one another. It is because of their efforts that we can see this majestic place in all its glory.
What to do?
There are plenty of things to do in Ninnaji Temple, including watching the vermilion-colored main gate, checking out the various Shinto shrines, taking a stroll through the peaceful garden, or witnessing the late-blooming cherry blossoms known as Omuro, if you’re visiting during mid-April.
Of course, don’t forget to check out the Agyo-Ungyo statues at the main entrance. We promise that you’ll keep coming to feel the incredible sense of oneness this place gives off.
The top 10 words to describe Japanese people (according to foreigners) | Japan Today
JAPAN’S SCHOOLS STRESS GROUP AND DISCOURAGE INDIVIDUALITY | The New York Times
Agyō and Ungyō Statues | Ninna-ji Official English Blog
Ninnaji Temple | japan-guide.com