Tucked away amongst the busy streets behind Shuri Castle, the bustling Daruma Temple is one of the best examples of a traditional Buddhist Temple in Okinawa. Like many Buddhist temples in Japan it coexists alongside the local Shinto Shrine. Let’s digress for a minute – the two major religions in Japan are Buddhism and Shinto. Buddhism came to Japan from China and worships Buddha at a Temple whereas Shinto is indigenous to Japan and is the worship of nature at Shrines. The two religions share various features and as many people in Japan belong to both it is common for Temples and Shrines to be built together. The Daruma Temple in Naha has all of the features you might expect from a Temple visit in Japan – incense burners, impressive Buddha statue, ema (those small wooden plaques) and the Shrine is dominated by an impressive walkway of red torii gates leading to an alter at the end. Throughout the Temple/Shrine complex there are colourful daruma dolls which can be purchased from the shop within the Temple main hall. Another feature of such places seems to be the presence of friendly cats lazing around in the sun, always a highlight of my son’s day.
The atmosphere at the Daruma Temple is peaceful despite it being busy and at times noisy. The locals were welcoming towards us and we felt comfortable to light some incense and watch the smoke circle around us, it really does create a calm and tranquil moment. The shop inside sells an array of daruma dolls plus omamori amulets, ema and Inari fox statues; all have their own significance or of course you can just choose what you like the look of. There are plenty of unique things to see here, every nook is packed full of unique details and the atmosphere and feel of the place are a defining characteristic of traditional Japan. It’s a wonderful addition to a solo or family day adventure in Naha.
1 Chome-5-1 Shuriakatacho, Naha, Okinawa 903-0813
Open 7.00am – 6.00pm, free entry
Free parking available (approx. 10 cars)