Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka

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Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka
Nyoirin-ji Kaeru-dera


The rainy season officially began at the beginning of June in Fukuoka and it didn't rain for the first couple of weeks. Impatient as I am and as I love the Japanese rainy season, I wanted to put myself in the "tsuyu" mood since the beginning : I went to visit the frog temple in Fukuoka ! A unique, astonishing and unknown place.


I'm going to be honest, even though I'm starting to know the area like very very very well, I had never heard of this temple located in Ogori town.
It is a person that I follow on Instagram who made me discover it. She has posted pretty photos of hydrangeas and wind bells. As I'm curious, I looked if she tagged the place and yes : a certain "Kaeru-dera".
"Kaeru" in Japanese means "frog" and "dera" means "temple". I then said to myself:

"Maybe it's a very cute temple with statues of frogs everywhere"

It was !! A quick Instagram browse show me the most adorable temple ever.
I started scrolling like crazy but after the first excitement, back to reality:

"Okay, it must be lost on the mountains with no station or bus stop nearby"


I was wrong this time.
The temple is at a 15 minutes walk from a station where trains from Tenjin stop ! It's almost too easy.

 The official name of the temple is Nyoirin-ji (如意輪寺) but it has always been nicknamed Kaeru-dera (かえる寺), so this name was added to Nyoirin-ji. It was founded in 729.

But why a temple dedicated to frogs?

The (true) story says that the chief priest wanted to interest the young population in the Buddhist rites, which, he said, would distance them from delinquency. To attract young people, nothing is better than something cute !
A jade frog brought back from China was the starting point: the frog is considered as a humble animal, which leaps forward, which represents the idea of ​​carry out its projects. The priest therefore began to collect them and transform his temple into a frog heaven. Although at first it earned many criticisms of the local population and other priests, the temple quickly became a local attraction.


Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka
One of the entrance

There are several entrance gates (three to be precise). The one by which I entered was so small and looked so much like a more or less private garden that I wondered if it was free or not.
Wait a minute... Paying to enter a temple is maybe common in other areas of japan (Kyoto) but not in Fukuoka ! Actually I only know one temple which request a fee. We, Fukuoka citizens, are so lucky !

From the door I found myself facing three large frogs and as soon as I entered the temple I was surrounded by this animal.
It's simple, there are frogs really everywhere. Small statues, figurines, flowerpots, patterns, engravings, drawings, toys, etc., it's amazing! In all there would be more than 5000.
The kawaii and/or frogs lover will LOVE this place.
 It just lacks real specimens splashing in a pond but well, it's too funny to look for all the frogs, sometimes hidden behind the vegetation, sometimes doing funny poses.

Disseminated in the temple, I also crossed Totoro, Kumamon, cats, Pikachu and a daruma. I only put two pictures of these, let's find the other by yourself !

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka
Kumamon !

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka


Inside the temple itself, there are two rooms called "house of frogs" (kaeru no ie, カエルの家).
These two rooms are entirely filled with frogs trinkets, toys, art objects, postcards and so on (more than 2000 in all). The entrance is of course free and it is worth the look, even if it is terribly kitch! Speaking of kitch, special mention to the inflatable frogs toys...

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka
House of frogs

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka
Even in the celling !

Shady and quiet, the temple itself is pretty. There are many benches to sit as well as tables for those who would like to bring some food to eat. There are a lot of families visiting the temple (the children have stars in their eyes) but also many elderly people and amateur instagamers / photographers. I also crossed a few groups of young men and salary man. This temple sure attracts a whole panel of people!

Visitors who search of spirituality will be pleased to learn that the Kaeru-dera is the temple n°3 of the Pilgrimage to 88 temples in Kyushu  and the n°8 of the Pilgrimage to 33 Kannon temples in Chikugo.


Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka

如意輪寺カエル寺、小郡市、福岡

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka


From June to September, an event adds a little more magic to this place: the festival of wind bells or Furin matsuri.

Thousands of small bells are hung on display stands located all around the temple. Imagine wandering while hearing the refreshing sounds of wind bells.
Each person visiting the temple can buy a 500 yens bell, write its greeting on the paper and then hang it on one of the displays. Most of the spots were already taken during my visit, I suppose that the priests must withdraw regularly to make room because it is really popular.

The festival was an opportunity to train my 55-210 mm lens. I'm pretty happy with the result, what do you think?

Wind bell festival, Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka

Wind bell festival, Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka

Wind bell festival, Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka

Wind bell festival, Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka
一体500円

Wind bell festival, Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka

Wind bell festival, Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka


I didn't gorget to bring my goshuin book. For a reason that I don't know, I waited almost an hour to receive my calligraphy. I took the opportunity to take a look at the amulets and other sacred objects and I felt in love for wooden plates with a message on it.
These plates are called "jushoku no sho" (住職の書) and messages are written by the main priest of the temple. There were all sorts of them, some with a simple "arigato", some else with deeper messages like mine, which means, roughly, "make your heart bloom."
I know nothing more about these plates, I saw quite a lot in the temple. Maybe people make themy blessed, then they offer them or bring them home as I did. The plate is really stunning in my room.


Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka
"make your heart bloom"

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka
The goshuin

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka
Even ema are with frogs ! 


Visiting the Nyoirin-ji Kaeru-dera will take you about 45 minutes and there is not much else in the surroundings but it is a very original temple. To me it is a place not to be missed if you are in Fukuoka.

I loved the place very much but I was just a little disappointed not to see more hydrangeas. I thought there would be more.
But well, I'm going to go again very soon to shoot a vlog there.

Nyoirin-ji (Kaeru-dera), a frog temple in Fukuoka



Access and useful informations

Nyoirin-ji Kaeru-dera (如意輪寺かえる寺)


Access from Fukuoka city
Take the Nishitetsu Omuta line from Nishitetsu Fukuoka (Tenjin) station and get off at Mikunigaoka station (三国が丘), it takes 30 minutes by express train and cost 460 yens one way. Then 15 minutes by foot.

Fee
Entrance : free
Ema : 500 yens
Furin : 500 yens
Goshuin : 300 yens

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