A National Treasure shrine, Kunozan Toshogu is located at the top of Mt. Kuno, which is not so far from Shimizu Port, Shizuoka Prefecture. If you visit this shrine, you will be enthralled (perhaps) by the magnificent buildings, elaborate artifacts, and, above all, the unique atmosphere the place itself exudes.
But amid this gorgeousness, there is one inconspicuous place that people rarely pay attention to. It is the place where a five-storied pagoda once stood. It is said that the padoda was an outstanding structure with the height of over 30 meters. But it was destroyed in 1873, and now only the stone foundation remains. Can you guess the reason why? It is because the government at that time issued the edict known as "the prohibition of dual worship of Shintoism and Buddhism."
Shintoism and Buddhism are basically the two different religions. Shintoism is an indigenous religion of Japan based on animism (some people even argue that Shintoism is more of a "way of life" for Japanese people rather than a "religion"), while Buddhism was introduced through China in the 6th century. Since then, they have been basically peacefully coexisting with each other, rather than opposing each other.
But in this particular period, around 1873, the government temporarily banned dual worship. And as a result, the pagoda was destroyed (a pagoda is a structure peculiar to Buddhism). And there is an interesting story (or rumor) concerning the ruins of the pagoda. It is said that the houses made with the ruins all burned down, and the ship carrying a large portion of the ruins sunk into the ocean.
The structure in front of the stone foundation of the pagoda was also influenced by the prohibition of dual worship. It was a "bell tower" until 1873. But according to the government order, the bell was removed, and instead of it, a drum was brought in from Edo Castle. Now it is called the Drum Tower. The sound of a large bell conjures up a slightly negative feeling associated with someone's passing. So a bell is basically a Buddhist object. But the sound of a drum is related to festivals and happy occasions, and that is associated with Shintoism.
If you really look, there is much more to see at Kunozan Toshogu. I hope that you will stay there as long as time will allow, and that you will ask your tour guide many questions.
Check out the tour in which Kunozan Toshogu is included in the itinerary:
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