Showing posts with label shichifukujin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shichifukujin. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Inori no Sato Religious Roadside Attraction


Coming down from Unzen Hot Springs towards Obama on the coast of Tachibana Bay, the road is steep and without any settlements until just above the town.

Inori no Sato is sometimes described as a park, sometimes as a roadside rest area, but it looks like some kind of religious roadside attraction with a wide range of statues and altars, and yet is not a temple or shrine.

It is sometimes referred to as Unzen Daibutsu Inori no Sato because of the Buddha statue seen in photo 2, which was made by the same sculptor who created the Ushiku Great Buddha in Ibaraki.

That was a standing figure 120 meters tall, whereas the statue here is a seated figure only 3 meters high including the base.

There are several statues of Kannon, photos 3 & 7, and several Fudo Myo statues, photos 6 & 14.

Under a gazebo in the middle of the park is an impressive statue of a Dragon grasping a golden sphere, photo 5, with a smaller version, photo 8. This is a common symbol across East Asia. The Secven Lucky Gods, shichifukujin, also make an appearance, photo 4.

Various figures from the world of Yokai make an appearance, including a Kappa Pond, photo 9, and a giant red Tengu mask, photo 10.

No overview of Japanese popular religion would be complete without an Inari Shrine, photo 11, a small collection of monkey statues probably related to the Koshin cult, photo 13, and a statue of Shotoku Taishi, photo 12.

There seems to be an emphasis on praying for good luck, success, and other "this worldly benefits", known as genze riyaku in Japanese.

Not shown in these photos is a miniature Shikoku Pilgrimage with 88 small statues, and a pair of "sexual" statues based on Dosojin.

There is no entry fee, though offertory boxes stand in front of all of the statues, and no sect or religion is being pushed. The whole thing was funded by a local businessman, Mr Takujima.

It seems he is the chairman of a successful construction company and Inori no Sato is his attempt to contribute to the well-being and perhaps revitalization of the local area.

The previous post was on the Unzen Hells.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Jimyoin Betsuin Temple


The Sasaguri Pilgrimage is a miniature version of the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage known as Ohenro. All the temples on the Sasaguri Pilgrimage are within the limits of Sasaguri, a town in the mountains east of Hakata, Fukuoka, and the whole route covers about 50 kilometers, yet the walking pilgrim passes by numerous other temples that are not part of the pilgrimage.

Jimyoin Betsuin Temple is one such temple, located along a mountain road to the north of Narufuchi Dam. We visited on our way down the mountain late in the afternoon of the 1st day walking the pilgrimage after having already visited more than twenty temples.

A Betsuin is a direct branch temple, and this one seems to be a branch of a Jimyoin Temple near Nanzoin further east. It is unstaffed and there was little information though it does appear to be relatively new.

What is known is that the temple belongs to the Shingon sect and has a Daishi-do, Yakushi-do, and across the road a Kannon-do.

The main hall enshrines the honzon, a Fudo Myo, and I will cover it and the many other Fudo statues in the grounds in the next post.

Photo 3 shows, I believe, an Aizen Myo, and the statues in photo 4 very much look in what seems to be Korean-style.

Photo 5 is probably Bishamonten, one of the Four Heavenly Kings, and the one most likely found alone without the other three. I'm not sure of the dragon in photo 6, but it looks a lot like Kurikara, the dragon representing the sword of Fudo Myo, except it is usually shown wrapped around a sword.

Photo 7 is the Shichifukujin, the Seven Lucky Gods. Have no idea what photo 8 is although its meaning seems somewhat obvious. Photo 9 is the Nio guardians from the rear looking across the road to the Yakushi-do.

The previous post in this series on the Sasaguri Pilgrimage was on the small  Hagio Amida-do we visited a little higher up the mountain road.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Monjuin Temple & Emon Saburo


Monjuin is a small temple to the south of Matsuyama City that is the 9th bangai, or bekkaku, temple on the famous Shikoku Pilgrimage known as Ohenro. bangai are the 20 "extra" temples on top of the 88 regular temples of the pilgrimage.

Monjuin is located between temples 47, Yasakiji, and 48, Saitinji, and was built on the site of the former home of a man called Emon Saburo, whose legend is connected with the foundation of the pilgrimage itself and also the practice of osettai, the giving of alms to pilgrims.

According to the story, Emon Saburo was a very wealthy merchant and one day a mendicant monk asked him for alms. He refused and also broke the begging bowl of the monk who was actually Kobo Daishi himself.

After each of his 8 sons fell ill and died, Emon realized it was caused by his actions against Kobo Daishi and so set off around Shikoku to try and catch up with him to ask for forgiveness. A burial mound near temple 46, Joruji, is said to be the grave of his 8 sons.

After completely traveling around Shikoku twenty times and failing to meet up with Kobo Daishi he decided to reverse his direction of travel and go in an anti-clockwise direction.

On the mountainside between temples 11 and 12 in Tokushima, Emon, exhausted and close to death, collapsed. Kobo Daishi appeared and granted him absolution. He asked to be reborn into a wealthy family so that he could restore a neglected temple.

Later a child was born clutching a stone inscribed with the words "Emon Saburo is reborn". Such a stone is on display at temple 51 Ishiteji, in Matsuyama.

The honzon at Monju-in is a "secret" Monju Bosatsu. I was quite impressed with the number of statues and reliefs on display in the grounds of such a small temple.

The previous post in the series was Yasakaji Temple

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Butsumokuji Temple 42 on the Shikoku Pilgrimage


Not far from the previous temple, number 41 Ryukoji, Butsumokuji is also not so large.

It has an impressive Niomon and a nice pair of Nio inside. Accoring to legend the temple was founded by Kobo Daishi himself in 807.

According to the story he was offered a ride on the back of a cow by a friendly farmer, and while riding along spotted a jewel in a camphor tree. This turned out to be the same jewel that he had thrown while in China. He carved a statue of Dainichi Nyorai, the hinzon of the temple, and placed thye jewel inbetween its eyes, and then founded the temple.

There is a small structure devoted to animals that was historically used by local farmers to pray for theor livestock but which in modern times has become known for praying for lost pets.

As well as the Nio, there is a largish Kannon statue, a set of 7 Luck Gods statues, and the bell tower is thatched, quite rare in Shikoku.

There was a very small garden which appealed to me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Ryukoji Temple 41 on the Shikoku Pilgrimage


Ryukoji Temple is one of several temples on the famous Shikoku Pilgrimage that were not established until late in the 19th century.

According to the legend, Kobo Daishi encountered an old man carrying rice near here and took him to be a manifestation of Inari Daimyojin, the rice god, and so established an Inari shrine here. The shrine still exists further up the hillside from Ryukoji.

In 1868 the new Japanese government set about rewriting the religious landscape of Japan and "separated" Buddhism and "shinto" and so Ryukoji was established.

Enshrined here is a "hidden" 11-faced Kannon and the temple just consists of the small main hall and the daishido. There are a few unusual sculptures made from strangely twisted pieces of natural wood, and also statues of the Seven Lucky Gods.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Myotokuji Temple, Toyo Daishi

At the end of my 11th day walking the Shikoku Pilgrimage I had crossed the border from Tokushima into Kochi and was about bto start the long stretch down the coast to the cape. Myotokuji Temple, lo9cally known as Toyo Daishi, is not one of the 88 temples of the pilgrimage, nor is it one of the twenty extra Bangai temples on the route, yet it is well known to walking pilgrims.

Between the temple and a nearby shrine is a small waterfall for practicing purification by cold water. There was evidence of recent use.

The temple had a kind of hand-made feel to it, with not a lot of money spent on it, but lots of effort. It felt more like a "working temple" rather than a tourist attraction. I was particularly taken by a small statue of the 7 Lucky Gods in their treasure boat that had a glass sphere that caught the setting sun.

I spent the night here in my first experience of a tsuyado, a place to stay for pilgrims provided free by a temple. The priest seemed to hesitate before giving me permission, and later asked if I wanted any food.

Before the sun was up loud drumming and chanting came from the small main hall as the priest began the days rituals.