The Shōju Raigō Neri-Kuyō Eshiki

The restaurant is located near the main entrance gate to Taimadera Temple, a temple long associated with the story of Chujohime (Princess Chujo).

Kamameshi Tamaya is located near the main gate to Taimadera Temple, a temple with a history going back to the 7th century.
Taimadera Temple stands at the foot of Nijōzan, believed to be the entrance to the Gokuraku Jōdō (nirvana) of Pure Land Buddhism. The principle object of worship in Taimadera Temple, rather unusually, is the Taima Mandala, which legend says was crafted from threads of lotus stems, in a single night, by Princess Chujo, a character who appears in Kabuki and Noh plays.
The Shōju Raigō Neri-Kuyō Eshiki event marking the anniversary of Princess Chujo’s death is observed annually on the 14 April. The event features a procession of twenty-five priests wearing masks and special costumes of Bosatsu (Buddhist saint who is seeking a state of spiritual enlightenment) who cross a long bridge, which is believed to link this world with the Pure Land. The grand spectacle is attended by large numbers of devotees. You are encouraged to go along as it really is best seen live.
On the east and west sides of the precincts are a couple of three storey pagodas housing Japan’s oldest temple bell, and the second oldest Shitenno (‘Four Heavenly Kings’) statues. With no less than eight national treasures in its collection, visitors throng to the temple in spring to see the peonies and in autumn to see the fall colours.

registered Tangible Cultural Asset

The history of Tamaya, a registered Tangible Cultural Asset

The number of Princess Chujo faithful grew following the Heian Period, many devotees beating a path to Taimadera Temple, and the community surrounding the temple flourished.
Tamaya was constructed towards the end of the Edo Period, in Kaei 6 (1853). This was during the time that Commodore Perry and the Black Ships arrived at Uraga and turbulent times ensued in Japan.
At the time a lodging for travelers, the Tamaya Ryokan and tavern flourished, but in Showa 4 (1929), with the Osaka Tetsudo (the present Kintetsu Minami Osaka line) railway opening, the number of lodgers decreased. In Showa 8 (1933), the business closed, and the building became a dwelling.
It was reborn as a retail premises in Heisei 18 (2006), and the Kamameshi Tamaya story began.
The building is thus more than 160 years old. There has been much restoration work on the building, but Tamaya still stands today in front of the Niomon Gate of Taimadera Temple. In Heisei 27 (2015), it was designated by the nation as a Tangible Cultural Asset.

Two story house

Tamaya was once a tavern. Lodgers could look down, from rooms on the second floor, on passers-by on the street leading to the temple. There was perhaps, at the time, news circulating about the arrival, in Edo, of the Blackships!

Hotei-sama

The onigawara ornaments at the apex of the tiled roof depict Hotei-sama, one of the seven Gods of Good Fortune. Above and below are threefold mitsudomoe crests.

Decorative motifs done

In several places around the Tamaya building there are plasterwork decorative motifs done by a skilled plasterer. The plasterwork on the front of building depicts, in relief, a realistic crane on a pine tree. This is highly unusual, so much so that many plasterwork motif aficionados come from far and wide to take photos.

Tiger

The wall on the right as you face the building is blank, but in fact at one time it seems that there a tiger was depicted here. Perhaps it was removed when passers-by who saw it complained about the terrifying stare of the tiger?

Large “Tama” character

Under the eaves on the west side of the building (on the Taimadera Temple side), there is a large Chinese character read ‘tama’. This comes from the name in the old days, the Tamaya Ryokan.

Jewel- shaped
ornamental panel

Under the eaves on the second floor, there is also a jewel- shaped ornamental panel, a design related to the jewel motif found in Buddhism. The Chinese character for jewel can be read ‘tama’, perhaps referring to Tamaya?

Boxes for storing lanterns

Immediately inside Tamaya, if you look up, you’ll see boxes for storing lanterns. Lanterns were essential when people went out at night in the past, and there was always a special place to store them in the entrance hallway. The boxes have Tamaya Ryokan family crests on them; cross arrow feathers in a circle.

Operated well pump

There is an irori fireplace in the middle of a small inner courtyard garden, with an old manually operated well pump (probably no longer usable).

Round window

A round window in a Tamaya annex room. The design is of a hawk on the branch of a pine tree, but it isn’t made of wood. As with the crane and pine motif on the front of the building, the technique is one using plaster!

Store

Immediately inside there is a store (as items are stored here, it is not open to the public). Plasterwork has also been used on the outside wall of the store.

Crane and a family crest

On the upper part of the door to the store is a crane in flight, and a family crest, the crossed arrow feathers in a circle motif, also done in plaster. Evidence of how skillful craftsmen were in those days!

Decorative nail head covers

Whilst you’re there, you should note the crane design used for the decorative nail head covers. The cranes on the external walls are there, apparently, because the Tamaya Ryokan owners were fond of cranes.

Ranma

The traditional carved trelliswork – ranma – overhead are also worth noting. There are various patterns. It’s worth trying to work out what they depict.

Firearm

There is an old firearm in the entrance hall. The antique items displayed inside have all been acquired over a period of time by the owner. Take time to view them.

Manhole

There is a most interesting manhole cover on your way from Taimadera Station. The exquisite design is of the two pagodas in Taimadera Temple, the famous peonies, and Nijōzan.

Simenawa

On the eaves of a house on the road leading to the temple can be seen a shimenawa (rice straw rope) which, at top and bottom, has mysterious items stuck through it. They’re Tenjinko from a nearby shrine. Most unusual!

Daikokusama

There are many traditional old houses along the street leading to Taimadera Temple. Including a Daikokusama, believed to bring good fortune, covered in gold leaf, squatting atop a wall. Search for him as you stroll by.
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