Kyoto's Temples and Shrines Popular for "Benefits" to RunnersFor Praying or Buying Amulets
Kyoto City has temples and shrines that attract crowds of runners believing they are "beneficial," every year, as Kyoto Marathon, held in the city, approaches. Race participants pray or buy amulets at them, hoping to be blessed by a deity believed to protect legs and waists or by a monk famous as a hardy hiker.
Goou Jinja Shinto Shrine, located at Karasuma-dori Shimochoja Kudaru, Kamigyo Ward, enshrines Wake no Kiyomaro, an aristocrat during the Nara and Heian Periods, who is known as a "protector deity of legs and waists." It is said that although Kiyomaro became unable to walk because the tendons of his legs were cut on his way to Osumi Province, today's Kagoshima Prefecture, he stood up under the protection of wild boars that suddenly appeared.
About ten years ago, the shrine produced amulets for strong legs with a runner's picture on them. They have become popular by word of mouth. A sub-priest said, "Some people visit the shrine after the race ends as they have seen the other runners' amulets."
Dairen-ji Temple, located at Nijo-dori Higashioji-nishi Iru, Sakyo Ward, which is near the goal for Kyoto Marathon, Heian Jingu Shrine in the same ward, is known as the temple associated with Genkyo Hata, a monk who ran around Kyoto City to distribute paper talismans for safe childbirth during the Meiji and Taisho Periods. It is believed that Hata, who was famous as running monk, completed a pilgrimage of Mt. Hiei, Mt. Kurama and Mt. Atago within a single day.
In 2008, the ninetieth anniversary of his death, the temple began to offer wooden talismans with the running monk's picture on them. At first, the temple anticipated that elderly people experiencing problems with their legs and waists would come, but the talismans have gained popularity among runners. As they have also been introduced in a runners' magazine, an increasing number of people have been seeking them. The temple's chief priest completed Kyoto Marathon 2014 in four hours and five minutes with the talisman. He said, "I would like to pray that all the participants in the marathon can run without any injuries."(translated by Galileo, Inc.)