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Boiled Pumpkin at Yata-dera Temple

Toji (冬至, winter solstice) is the day which has the shortest daylight hours in the year. In Japan, we take a Yuzuburo (柚風呂, hot citron bath) and eat boiled pumpkin on this day. There is an old saying that if you eat a food which includes more than two “n” consonants in its name on this day, you don’t get any illness. For example, “Nankin (南瓜, pumpkins)”, “Ninjin (ニンジン, carrots)”, “Renkon (蓮根, rotus roots)”, “Ginnan (銀杏, ginkgo nuts)”, “Kinkan (金柑, kumquats)”, “Kanten (寒天, agar)”, and “Undon (饂飩, udon noodle)”, are eaten. Also, it is said that if you have three “n”, namely, “un (運, luck)”, “don (鈍, tenacity)”, and and “kon (根, root)”, you will success.

Yata-dera (矢田寺) is a temple at the Teramachi (寺町) street famous for both Okurigane (送り鐘, send off bells for spirits of ancestors) and Kabocya-kuyo (かぼちゃ供養, memorial service where boiled pumpkin is offered). On the day of Toji, a gigantic pumpkin is set in front of the main hall. Visitors rub the pumpkin with a prayer of avoiding illness and enjoy a dish of boiled pumpkin. I had it and it was very tasty.

I also made a prayer for the good health in the coming New Year.

Akane Kibune
Kyoto Expert Certification 1st Grade

3 mins. on foot from Kawaramachi-Sanjo, Kyoto city bus



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