Hair Rope of Higashi Hongan-ji Temple – Kyoto, Japan - Atlas Obscura

Hair Rope of Higashi Hongan-ji Temple

When this massive wooden temple ran out of rope, they made one out of devotees' hair. 


The Higashi Hongan-ji Temple in Kyoto, Japan houses an oddity that attracts tourists from around the world - ropes made from human hair.

A doctrinal subsection of Shin Buddhism, Higashi Hongan-ji is a widely followed version of the religion that has its main temple in Kyoto, Japan. The religion itself dates back to the 1602, and had a central temple in what is now Kyoto. Unfortunately the original temple complex was burnt down a number of times, and rebuilt each time, the final recreation being completed in 1895. The temple complex that stands today is thought to be one of the world’s largest wooden structures, but that doesn’t mean that the grand temple was any easier to build.

The construction of the temple’s two main halls, the Founder’s Hall and the Amida Hall required the hoisting and moving of massive wooden beams, but unfortunately, obtaining rope strong enough for the job was nearly impossible at the time. Luckily, the female devotees of the temple got together to help out. Cutting off their long hair, they took the long locks and braided them together to make a strong, thick, gross rope that was able to hoist the heavy beams.

Today some of the hairy rope can still be seen on display at the temple. It is held under glass and a little more frayed than it probably looked like when it was in use, but it is a fascinating artifact of ingenuity nonetheless.  

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