You would have heard of the strangest things being offered at religious sites across the world. Here's one more to add to the list.
Grapes and wine bottles are offered as gifts at a Buddhist monastery on a forested hillside in Japan. Officially called Daizenji, the place has also been known as the "grape temple" due to its profound ties to the country's history of grape farming. In fact, the head monk is the honorary president of a vineyard cooperative here.
Daizenji is located in the Yamanashi area, some 100 kilometres from west Tokyo. The Yamanashi region is famed for being the home of Mount Fuji and, more recently, Japan's top winemaking location.
The Daizenji Temple adheres to the Shingon style of Buddhism. According to mythology, the temple was founded in 718 AD when the priest Gyoki saw Yakushi, the Buddha of medicine and healing, carrying a cluster of grapes. Gyoki sculpted the revered figure of Yakushi, now the temple's major focus of worship. Gyoki also taught villagers how to plant a type of grape known as Koshu grapes, which were eventually used as herbal medicine. The grapes are still popular today, and the narrative is one idea about the origins of grape cultivation in Japan.
Grapes and wine bottles are placed as offerings at the temple's altar. A modest shrine and an idol of Yakushi Nyorai with a bunch of grapes in his palm may be found here. The gold-decorated sculpture is regarded as priceless, treasured, and displayed publicly every five years.
Tourists can purchase wine made by monks at the temple, who continue to harvest grapes and manufacture wine. You can also stay at the temple's contemporary guest house. The temple has a landscape garden, which includes a pond and a waterfall, located beyond the lodging house.
How To Get There
A bus runs every 2&ndash5 hours from Enzan Station to the shrine (35 minutes, 300 yen one way). Enzan Station is 20 minutes by train from Kofu Station and costs 330 yen on the JR Chuo Line. The infrequent loop buses that serve the winemaking area also serve the temple. Daizenji may also be accessed via cab from Katsunumabudokyo Station in approximately ten minutes (about 1000-1500 yen one way) or by foot in about 45 minutes.