Leap of faith: Frog parade returns to Nara temple

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A performer in a frog costume jumps onto a stage at Kinpusenji temple in Yoshino, Nara Prefecture, on July 7.

YOSHINO, Nara — A parade featuring a frog performance was held for the first time in three years at a temple in Nara Prefecture this month, after two years of cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A performer in a frog costume comically jumped onto a stage and bowed before a priest during the event at Kinpusenji temple, a World Heritage site in the town of Yoshino.

According to legend, a man who insulted the deity and temple acolytes was taken by an eagle and left on a cliff. A priest transformed the man into a frog to rescue him and later returned him to human form.

At the event on July 7, applause rippled through the crowd when the frog was transformed into a human by the priest’s sutra chanting.

While the temple continued to hold the performance amid the pandemic, a parade featuring the frog on a taikodai, a kind of float, was canceled in 2020, and ’21.

A 55-year-old local who runs a sweets shop has played the part of the frog for about 20 years.

“It was hot, but I’m happy we could put on a cheerful show,” he said.