Buddhism was introduced into Japan in the middle of the 6th century and has been part of the Japanese people's daily lives since then.
What are temples?
Temples are institutions where Buddhist rites and ceremonies are performed, which were introduced from India and China. Buddhist monks live on the premises and worship a statue in the image of Buddha.
The temple visit
Temples have different features depending on which sect it is. However, it is always allowed to even visit a temple of a different sect. For the sake of open-mindedness, as long as your aim is to understand the teachings of Buddha, you are allowed to visit any temple.
The main gate of a Buddhist temple
The main gate is the structure at the entrance of a temple. Hold your hands together to greet Buddha and proceed.
Main temple building
The main building is where the statue of Buddha is enshrined. To report that you are visiting, pull the rope to sound the gong placed in front of the main building. Donate money into the box with the sign "Jozai (donations)" on it. The act of donating money is considered as a training to emancipate yourself from your worldly desires. After bowing, put your hands together and lower your head.
The Five-story Pagoda
Some temples have a three-story Pagoda. It is an important building in a Buddhist facility which holds the historical Buddha's relics (bones after cremation). The five-story pagoda of Horyuji Temple was built around the year 680 and is the oldest wooden construction in the world.
Temples and events in Japan
Japanese people often visit shrines and temples near the end of the year and in the beginning of the new year. The bell that is struck to greet the new year at midnight on New Year's Eve is called "Joya no Kane (bell ringing out the old year)". According to the Buddhist teachings, human beings have 108 worldly desires. The bell is struck 108 times to drive away these worldly desires. On New Year's Day, people pay their first visit to a shrine or temple to pray for good health.
*This information is from the time of this article's publication.