The Wind Chime Festival takes place in Nara Prefecture’s Kashihara City in July and August each year. Over 2,500 hanging wind chimes greet temple visitors and tourists with their gentle tones. In Japan, the soft sound of wind chimes is said to ward off summer heat and have been used for this purpose since long ago. It’s common to hear the cicadas chirping alongside them. The festival is a great place if you’re looking for a relaxing summer getaway.
Wind Chimes Beckon Visitors
Ofusa Kannon is located close to Asukamura and Kashiharajinguu. To get there from Yamatoyagi Station, take the bus to Ofusa Bus Stop and walk, which takes about five minutes. The route there from the bus stop is a bit confusing, but follow the signs and you’ll be fine. Walk to the north and go through the neighborhood, and you’ll be there before you know it. You’ll know you’re getting close when you hear the comforting sound of wind chimes.
You can also get to Ofusa Kannon by walking from JR Unebi Station, which is about a 10 minute walk. However, it’s best to come by taxi as the festival takes place at the peak of summer. I don’t recommend coming by car, as the roads are very narrow and the parking lots tend to fill up.
A peek through the gate reveals thousands of chimes. Together, they can be heard from pretty far away.
Inside: Wind Chimes as Far as the Eye Can See
Upon entering the gate, the scene of all the different colored chimes blowing in the wind can only be described as beautiful. They are transparent, which gives them a subdued, pleasant appearance. When the wind blows through the temple grounds, the feeling of being engulfed in the sound of all of the chimes going off at once is a moving experience, one that you should hear for yourself.
Over 2000 Types of Roses in Bloom
Ofusa Kannon is also famous for the many roses that bloom on its grounds, and it holds rose festivals in the spring and fall. They can be enjoyed outside of the festival periods as well, so consider viewing the roses and wind chimes together.
Feel the solace as you view the contrast of the colorful roses against the blue sky.
Tons of Different Wind Chimes From All Over Japan
The wind chimes decorating the outside were made in various parts of Japan. There are even some made in rare shapes such as chopsticks (myochin hibashi), tea cups (kiyo mizu yaki), and so many other varieties that you definitely won’t lose interest. It’s like taking a trip through Japan by looking at wind chimes.
They also sell them on site, and you can choose from over 90 different kinds from all over Japan. You’re sure to find at least one that you like, and you might even be torn over which to take home.
Bonus: Special Exhibition Featuring a Lifelike Iki Ningyo Doll From Famous Creator Yasumoto Kamehachi
Alongside the wind chime festival, the temple also exhibits its iki ningyo, perhaps its greatest treasure. Iki ningyo are works of art — dolls meticulously created to look like real people. They have been around in Japan since the Edo Period (1603-1868).
The iki ningyo on display at Ofusa Kannon were created by Kamehachi Yasumoto, an artist who was active at the end of the Edo period through the start of the Meiji period. Many in Japan recognize his most famous work of art, the iki ningyo sumo wrestler, which is currently held by the Contemporary Art Museum Kumamoto.
At Ofusa Kannon, you can see the doll of Kihachiro Ida, a local celebrity. This doll is not fully life sized, but the techniques and finesse used to create the details on the doll are stunning.
It’s so detailed that it looks like it could come to life. Even the blood veins on the hands were sculpted in one by one, and careful consideration was given to wrinkles on the face.
If you go to Ofusa Kannon, don’t pass up the rare opportunity to see this, as few Yasumoto’s works still exist today.
Wind Down with Some Shaved Ice
At the back of the path that runs next to the main temple is a small teahouse. There, you can have green tea, Japanese sweets, and kakigori (shaved ice), everyone’s favorite summer treat in Japan! After listening to the tranquil tones and looking at the clear, cool wind chimes swaying in the breeze, kakigori is really the best way to escape the summer heat. Kashiharajingu Shrine and Asuka Village are close by and are great to visit afterwards.
Enjoy your shower of sound in Ofusa Kannon.
Ofusa Kannon Hours: 9:00AM - 4:00PM Price: 300JPY (for those who want to enter the main hall)
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