On New Year’s Eve, Kieran and Hiroe went to bed early, so I walked up alone to Shinyodo Temple for the annual bell ringing. I have never seen the place look so magical: under 15cm of snow, with fires burning and lanterns lit, it was like something out of Narnia.
The monks were serving warm herbal tea, supposed to help us get through the winter without catching colds. Eventually, two friends turned up. We went over to the temple bell. The monks chanted while standing under the bell. Then, they took turns ringing the bell. Finally, the allowed us to ring the bell. This is one of those traditions that make you glad you live in Kyoto.
Here are the steps leading up to the temple. You can see the orange-robed monks heading up to the bell.
Here’s a lantern in the temple grounds:
Here are the monks ringing the bell:
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router.
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass - here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy - here's how.
- Get travel insurance for Japan - we recommend World Nomads (and here's why)