In Japanese culture, this is the kind of bell worshippers are supposed to ring before praying, in order to make their presence known to the deities.
As far as I know, this kind of bell is typical of Japanese Shinto shrines. Here, though, we see it at a Buddhist temple as a result of the extensive mutual influence exerted by these two religions over centuries in Japan.
This temple, Renge-ji, is one of around sixty other Buddhist temples you can visit in the quiet, charming Yanaka district of Tokyo. That’s a lot of temples, and after a while it becomes too much, but that shouldn’t deter you from taking a stroll in this area.
It is a peaceful maze of narrow streets and alleys, opening on both sides to small graveyards and temples of purest beauty. The area is similar to the temple town in Takayama I showed you in this post, but in a decidedly more urban setting.
I have to say I completely fell in love with the architecture and the exquisite, elegant carpentry and woodwork in Japanese temples and shrines. What do you think?
P.S. Are you curious to know what’s written on the wooden slat on the steps? So was I. A quick scan of the photo with Google’s Translate app reveals it says “Shoes forbidden”!