Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Kannon at Myo-On-Ji Temple


Myo-On-ji is temple number 15 on the Sasaguri Pilgrimage in Fukuoka. If you follow the suggested route it is the 11th temple you visit since starting, just a few hours earlier. It is the biggest temple so far, though there are no grand buildings, rather a large number of smaller "halls", and like all temples on the pilgrimage, a huge number of statues.

Previously I posted some of the Fudo Myo statues at Myo-onji, and then later an even larger selection with more detail about the deity Fudo. This time I will post what I believe are all photos of Kannon, and offer a few details about her.

Known as Kanzeon Bosatsu in Japan, and commonly referred to as the Goddess of Mercy in  English, Kannon began, as did many Buddhist deities, in India, where he is known as Avalokiteshvara, and where he is almost always considered to be a male deity, also in Tibet and SE Asia. In China he became mixed with a female Daoist deity and so in China, Korea, and Japan is considered female. 

Kannon comes in many forms, the most iconic perhaps being the 1,000-armed Kannon, though actually not many of the statues actually have a full 1,000 arms. 11-faced Kannon is fairly common, as is Jibo Kannon, usually depicted wearing white robes and holding a baby.

Bokefuji Kannon is an increasingly popular form of Kannon as she protects against senility and dementia and also increasingly popular is Mizuko Kannon, like Mizuko Jizo, prayed to for the souls of deceased babies and abortions. Kannon has many motherly qualities, and during the pre-modern period when Christianity was outlawed statues of Kannon were used as a substitute for Maria.

There are some giant-sized statues of Kannon in Jaan that are so big you can climb up inside to viewing platforms. There are also numerous pilgrimages to Kannon, usually consisting of 33 temples. I have walked the Izumo Kannon Pilgrimage, the Iwami Kannon Mandala Pilgrimage, The Chugoku Kannin Pilgrimage that covers Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Shiman, and Tottori, and the oldest pilgrimage route in Japan the Saigoku Pilgrimage in Kansai.

Clicking any of the pilgrimage links above will take you to a listing, in chronoloical reverse order, of posts on those pilgrimages. The only one that i have completely posted is the Izumo, all the others I am only as far as the frst few days in posting.

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