The 50 Things You Must Do in Asia

By Hanya Yanagihara - 2013-07-23T16:27:10Z

Photograph by Jeremy Horner/Alamy

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Receive a Jukai Blessing at the Garan Complex in Kyosan: Japan

The jukai ceremony takes place in a temple that's almost entirely dark. After chanting, the priest will call you up to receive from him a small paper charm upon which is inscribed Shingon's ten commandments. Kneel before him, bow your head, receive the paper with both hands, bow again, and return to your seat on the tatami mat in front of him. He will then deliver a brief sermon that will be translated by your guide. It's an utterly mystical experience: The priest appears as a black silhouette, the only light an illuminated painting of Kobo Daishi behind him, his voice and that of the junior priest's filling the air like smoke. 

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