A temple with an interesting history that can be traced back to a single hermitage founded by a Chinese monk in 770, Kurama-dera in northern Kyoto is nestled in an ancient forest and set partway up Mount Kurama.
Because of its location, this temple has a deep and abiding relationship with nature, and many of its rituals throughout the year reflect this.
On June 20th, Kurama-dera holds their annual bamboo cutting ritual, the Takekiri-eshiki (or Takekiri-e).
Held as homage to a legend about a monk of the temple and his battle with supernatural serpents as well as a form of divination regarding the crop futures in surrounding areas, the Takekiri-e is a fast-paced and exciting ritual to behold.
After a memorial service held inside that expresses gratitude for nature, grains, and water, as well as a round of practice cutting and a bugaku traditional court dance, two teams of local men dressed as warrior monks compete to see who can cut the thick bamboo poles into six pieces the fastest, utilizing great strength and skill with their blades. Quite action-packed, the Takekiri-e stands out from other more sedate rituals and offers various sights for visitors to take in. Those who have a mind for nature and culture would benefit from a trip to Kurama-dera.
Things to See/Do