Showing posts with label shitenno. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shitenno. Show all posts

Saturday, January 27, 2024

The Art of Taisanji Temple


Like most of the temples on major pilgrimages, Taisanji, temple 52 on the Shikoku pilgrimage has plenty of art adorning the buildings and grounds.

The Nio Gate is about 600 meters from the temple grounds. Rebuilt in 1305,at  the same time as the main hall, it contains 2 striking Nio guardians.

At the next gate, at the entrance to the main temple complex, there are 4 statues of the Shitenno, the four heavenly kings.

It is not uncommon to find temple gates with the four shitenno

Inside the bell tower are paintings depicting Enma and the other judges of hell and scenes of the tortures and sufferings awaiting those going to hell...

Ema, votive plaques, are a religious practice common to both shrines and temples. There were a variety of different designs at Taisanji, but I was attracted to theFudo.....

traces of pigment can still be seen in this example of relief carving....

Not sure who this statue is, but to my untrained eye it seems to be almost an Indian-style statue...

Small statues of Daikoku, one of the Seven Lucky Gods, can often be found at the ends of roof ridges, or, like here, on a wall toed with kawara.

To me, this final statue aears to be done in Korean style.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Onsenji Temple


Onsenji is the guardian temple of Kinosaki Onsen in Toyooka, Hyogo, and is located halfway up Daishiyama Mountain overlooking the hot spring town.

According to the legend it was founded in 738 by Dochi Shonin who spent 1,000 days in ascetic practise before a spring arose. It was traditional for visitors to visit the temple before heading to the healing baths of Kinosaki.

There are some temple structures at the base of the mountain where the steps up to te main temple begin, and the temple also has its own stop of the ropeway that goes to the mountaintop where the okunoin of the temple ( photo 8) is adjacent to the ropeway station.

The main hall of the temple dates back to the late 14th century and is the oldest wooden building in the former province of Tajima.

The honzon is a "secret buddha" and is only shown to the public once every 33 years. It is a Thousand-Armed Kannon built from a single piece of wood said to be from the same tree as the honzon of the famous Hasedera Temple in Nara.

Set among some giant trees, the temple has a Tahoto, a Shingon-style pagoda, was rebuilt in 1767.

Though the honzon is not shown, the main hall does have some nice statuary and the settings and architecture of Onsenji are quite picturesque. I will cover the main gate and lower buildings in a later post. The previous post in this series on Toyooka was the Kinosaki Onsen Ropeway.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Daion-ji Temple Nagasaki


Continuing north along Teramachi from Daikoji Temple, the next big temple is Daionji.

It was founded in 1614 and belongs to the Jodo, or Pure Land Sect, founded by Honen, and the honzon is another Amida.

During the Edo Period, the temple was considered one of the Three Major Temples of Nagasaki. The priest who founded it, Denyo Sekitotsu, was another of the Five Nagasaki Monks.

The temple buildings survived the atomic bombing, but were destroyed later by arson. A small brick arch dates back to about 1868.

The Sanmon Gate houses statues of the Shitenno rather than Nio.

Other than the colorful Shitenno statues and a lovely weeping Plum tree in full bloom in mid February, there is not a lot to see. For the historically minded the cemetery has the grave of Yasuhide Matsudaira, the Nagasaki Magistrate who committed suicide to atone for allowing an English ship into Nagasaki in 1808.

The previous post in this series on day 60 of my Kyushu Pilgrimage was the neighboring Daikoji Temple.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Kumadaniji Temple Revisited

Kumadaniji Temple 熊谷寺

The Tahoto, two-storied pagoda, at Kumadaniji Temple. Built in 1701, it is an Important Cultural property of Tokushima. The Tahoto is usually found at Shingon and sometimes Tendai temples.Kumadaniji is Shungon.

It is temple number 8 on the Shikoku Ohenro pilgrimage, but I was revisiting it on day 2 of my walk along the Shikoku Fudo Myoo pilgrimage which followed a similar route for the first day and a half.

Earlier I posted about the impressive Niomon gate that stands out in the valley. At the Sanmon, Mountain gate, of the temple there were a pair of Shitenno guardians, Jikokuten, I believe, pictured above.

The main hall of the temple burned down in 1928, but the Daishido, pictured above, survived. It was built in 1774.

A statue of Kobo Daishi as a mendicant monk stands in front of the bell tower.

A statue of Bishamointen, another of the Shitenno, at Kumadaniji Templenin Tokushima.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The Magnificent Shitenno of Renge-in Tanjyoji Temple


Heading out of Tamana in Kumamoto on day 49 of my walk, I spied a tall pagoda, and heading over to investigate discovered this huge temple, Renge0in Tanjyiji. In the next post I will delve into the background of the temple, but for now I will just focus on the splendid gate. 15 meters tall and built solely out of wood in 2011, it houses the 4 Shitenno, the Heavenly Kings, Guardians of the 4 directions.

Standing more than 4 meters in height, they are said to be the biggest Shitenno statues in Japan. Zochoten. Guarding the south, Zochoten is associated with prosperity and spiritual growth. His season is summer, his colour is red, and his element is fire. Depicted with one hand on his hip, and the other holding a pole weapon.

Jikokuten means Guardian of the Nation, and he usually carries a sword and a staff, but not in this statue. He guards the east and his element is water. Associated with strength, he is either blue or green, and his season is spring.

All the Shitenno are depicted stepping on small, demonic creatures called Jaki or Jyaki, symbolizing their suppression of evil.

Tamonten is often known as Bishamonten and was adopted by the samurai and hence acquired an identity as a God of War. Guardian of the north, his element is earth and his color is black. All-knowing and all-hearing he is also associated with wealth and is usually depicted with a pagoda on one hand.

Guardian of the west, Komokuten sees through evil. He is usually depicted holding a scroll and a brush. His colour is white and his element is metal and season is autumn.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Scary protectors


It took me a long time to find out about this statue as I can find nothing similar anywhere else. It is located in Mitaki Dera, my favorite site in Hiroshima City. Many people refer to it as a Nio, but it is not. It is one of the Shitenno, the 4 Heavenly Kings.


Originally Hindu deities, in Japanese buddhism the shitenno are associated with protection of the 4 directions. Tamonten, also known as Bishamonten, is probably the most well known of the shitenno. Which of the four this one is I don't know.


The clue that it is a shitenno and not a nio is that under its foot, and in this particular statue also being hurled from its left hand, are Jaki ( or Jyaki), a type of demon or malevolent spirit.