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Mukaegane, Welcome Bell at Rokudo-chinno-ji Temple

After the Gion festival (祇園祭), the next signature event in Kyoto is Mukaegane (迎え鐘, welcome bells for deceased ancestors) at Rokudo chino-ji (六道珍皇寺) temple. Every year from August 7 to 10, this long established event is conducted in order to welcome the spirits of deceased family members who are returning to this world during the Obon (お盆) season.

In the Heian (平安) period, the area around Rokudo-chinno-ji was a place of burial, and was believed to be the border between this world and the world of after death. Accordingly, this area was called “Rokudo no tsuji (六道の辻, the intersection of six paths to the six realms of human soul).

At the temple during the Mukaegane period, visitors purchase Koyamaki (高野槇, Japanese umbrella pine) and a Mizutoba (水塔婆, wooden tablet) with names of deceased family members on it, ring the bell, and dedicate prayers according to the style called Mizuekoh (水回向).

They say the sound of Mukaegane can reach the world of after death. As soon as the deceased people hear the sound of Mukaegane, they comes to the temple and return to our homes riding on the Koyamaki we purchase. However, the sound of the bell is somewhat sad and lonely. Maybe it’s because we all know that they are already gone in reality…

I also went to Rokudo chinno-ji and hit the bell to greet my ancestors.

Akane Kibune
Kyoto Expert Certification 1st Grade

Access: 5 mins. on foot from Kiyomizumichi, Kyoto city bus


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