Kyoto Monkeys (Kukurizaru at Yasaka Koshindo Temple in Kyoto)
The following is the text of a handout about Kukurizaru from Yasaka Koshindo Temple in Kyoto:
Yasaka Koshindo Temple
Koshin-san (Shomen kongo (the blue warrior), one of the Buddhist guardians) likes good people. Therefore, divine favor is given to them. But he abhors bad people. Therefore, punishment is given to them. His wish is that everybody will become a good person. That is why he has an angry face so that humans will not have a wicket heart. He aids those who try with all their might to be a good person.
Kukurizaru (The Hanging Monkey)
The Kukurizaru is a monkey which has its hands and feet tied together and cannot move. It is said that the monkey is an animal very like man, but after all it is an animal that simply acts upon its will or desire. If you go to a zoo, you can see that a monkey just plays about as it likes. This figure is compared to the desire in man, and in order that "desire" can not come out it is tied by Koshin.
In order to have one of your wishes granted by the monkey, you should get rid of one of your desires.
When you put in the effort to fulfill your wish, your desire tries to come out and prevent it from coming true. So you must put your desire in the monkey and Koshin will help you control it. Therefore, if your desire tries to come out and you do a bad thing, or you lose the willto keep up your effort as though the monkey in you is playing about you should remember Koshin's angry face. You should warn yourself that "You will be punished" and you should control your desire like a hanging monkey. If you do a good thing the hanging monkey will help you as a servant of Koshin. If you feel a desire coming on, you should put your hands together, pray to Koshin, and recite the Buddhist sutra:
"ON DEIBA YAKISYA BANTA BANTA KAKAKAKA SOWAKA"
If your monkey gets dirty or old you should replace it with a new one. And, if you do not need it anymore, please sent it back to Koshindo.
Writer: Emi Kitagawa (Kyoto Saga University of Arts, Department of Tourism Design)
Editor: Eleanor Robinson (Kyoto University)
Below are two pictures of the hanging monkeys with (I assume) desires of which people wish to rid themselves (sorry, a bit blury):