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Why Wine Is Offered As An Offering In This Japanese Buddhist Temple

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Why Wine Is Offered As An Offering In This Japanese Buddhist Temple

Grapes and wine bottles are presented as gifts at a Buddhist monastery in Japan that is situated on a forested hillside. The head monk also serves as the honorary president of a cooperative vineyard.
Its official name is Daizenji, but because of its intricate ties to the nation’s history of grape cultivation, it has earned the moniker “grape temple.”

Daizenji is located in the Yamanashi area, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of Tokyo, which is well-known for being the birthplace of Mount Fuji and, more recently, for being the best place in Japan to make wine.

“In other temples, sake is served; here, wine is served. That is distinct to Japan “Tesshu Inoue, the head monk, who is 75 years old, told AFP about the mythical beginnings of his monastery.

The Buddha of medicine, also known as Yakushi Nyorai in Japanese, is supposed to have appeared to a prominent Japanese Buddhist monk and traveler Gyoki there in 718 AD in a dream.

Nyorai had a cluster of grapes in his hand when Gyoki founded Daizenji and established the community’s vineyard culture by showing Yamanashi citizens how to produce wine for therapeutic purposes.

According to a separate tradition, the first person to plant grapes in Japan was a farmer named Kageyu Amemiya in 1186, in the same region but more than 450 years later.

Koshu, the oldest grape variety planted in the mountainous area, was discovered through DNA research to be a hybrid of a vine species first cultivated in Europe and a wild Chinese vine.

That implies that, like Buddhism, it may have traveled down the Silk Road before arriving in Japan.

The local chamber of the commerce’s-supported website for Yamanashi’s “koshu valley” hypothesizes that seeds or vines from China may have been put in the grounds of temples and accidentally found many years later.

However, wine production in Japan did not begin until the Meiji Period, which lasted from 1868 to 1912 and was characterized by a surge in Western interest.

Yamanashi was a natural option for the first vineyards because of its rich soil and lengthy history of grape cultivation. Even today, Daizenji is surrounded by grapes being cultivated on pergola constructions.

Offerings of grapes and bottles are placed at the altar, and a modest shrine hides a vintage cherry-wood figurine of Yakushi Nyorai holding his fabled cluster of grapes.

The lacquered sculpture with the gold leaf decorations is a priceless artifact that is only displayed in front of the public every five years.

Daizenji sells its grapes and wine in bottles with the temple’s name.

Inoue replied, smiling, “Growing grapes and creating wine is a nice deed.

It’s positive karma,

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