I have not been able to find a lot of information about this in English, and my Japanese is not good enough to decipher technical writing, however I thought this was very interesting, and I have tried to fill in the blanks with some research.
Daigo-Ji Temple in Fushimi, in Kyoto, is a very, very beautiful and old collection of buildings. Built in 874 and dedicated to the protection of the Universe, I visited a few years ago and was completely besotted with this stunning place. Some of the most beautiful gardens, amazing cherry trees, an incredible cedar forest and the oldest surviving building in Kyoto. I was not aware while we were there that the temple was dedicated to the protection of the Universe. Nor did I know that they hold Buddhists Space services on a regular basis. As a UNESCO World Heritage listed site, Daigo-Ji is definitely moving with the times.
The very interesting thing I am trying to learn more about is that Daigo-Ji Temple have begun working on a project with a satellite company based in Kyoto, who are sending a satellite into orbit in 2023. The IoT satellite will be used to protect cultural assets in Japan that have no cellular phone coverage, as they are located in mountainous areas. Within this satellite, which will orbit the Earth every 90 minutes, at an altitude of 450kms, there will be a temple. A SPACE TEMPLE!!! A Buddhist temple, containing imagery, a mandala and other religious items, dedicated to the protection of the Universe, whizzing above our heads every 90 minutes.
The temple will be called Joten-in Goun-Ji. From my scarce information and my trying to translate Japanese, I believe this to mean 上天 Joten- Above Heaven or Pure Heaven and 五蘊 goun- the five skandhas in Buddhist teachings. These are the five aggregates, matter, sensation, perception, mental formations and consciousness. The in and the ji mean temple…
I absolutely love this story as it encapsulates everything I love about Japan. A place where history and the future collide in such a way that they both remain totally relevant and do not even slightly misalign with each other when in juxtaposition. The tangible past, the reachable future.
Daigo-Ji Temple will hold a special “Space Prayer Ceremony” next Monday, on the 8th of February. I am looking forward to following this story. If you would like to read more about Daigo-Ji (and see photos) click the link here.