Hungry for some ancient Okinawan culture with a taste of terror? Kin Kannon-Do Temple and cave is the place for you! This tiny, easy to miss historical site features a modest Buddhist Temple which was built in 1668, although the Buddhist site itself was founded in 1552. The structure is surprisingly original, having managed to avoid damage during the Battle of Okinawa. For the past 464 years Kin-Kannon Do has actively been used as a prayer site, as well as a location for funerals and weddings. When you walk up to the structure, there are no windows nor doors, just an opening in the wall which lets you view the religious artifacts and ritual items. You can kneel and pray (shoes off!) whenever and as frequently as you want, although it is customary to go four times a month.
The day we visited Kin Kannon-Do nonstop thunderstorms had been rolling through, which probably explained why Ben and I were the only ones there. We were under the pretenses that we had to pay to enter the adjacent cave. However, when we called into the building next to the temple, thinking maybe it was a visitors center, it appeared to be empty. The drizzling rain, lightning, thunder, and the feeling of complete isolation made for a perfectly eerie descent into the cave. I originally protested going in it because we had no map, no tour guide, and no clue what to expect, but curiosity got the best of us.
Venturing into the cave, we first saw several Buddhist artifacts which included a happy golden Buddha, as well as a shrine that appeared to encase a few bottles of sake. Legend has it that a giant Habu snake used to live in the cave. When a Buddhist priest named Nisshu was washed ashore during a typhoon and saved by the villagers, as a thanks he prayed to God to kill the snake and also placed these items at the entrance.
The stalagmites and stalactites that were also prominently featured at the entrance of the cave were enormous and some were even named! "Buddha's Parasol" was my personal favorite.
Ben and I were shocked by how long this cave seemed to stretch on.... In retrospect, I can't believe we were brave enough to venture as far as we did. The cave was pitch-black, very slippery, we were unsure what was it in and whether or not we were even allowed to be there.... We are fools, but our adrenaline got the best of us!
Until next time, blog readers!
We're Kara and Ben, a Marine Corps family currently stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Enjoy our adventures, travels, photos, thoughts, and life together halfway around the world!
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