Showing posts with label zen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label zen. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Gokurakuji Temple Kinosaki


Gokurakuji Temle is a Rinzai Zen temple tucked away down a back lane in Kinosaki Onsen and is hardly visited by most visitors to the town.

In front of the main gate is a hillside rock garden dotted with statues and a pond with what I presume is a Benzaiten Shrine.

The temple dates back to around the beginning of the 15th century, but fell into disuse and was revived in the early 17th century by the Zen monk known as Takuan after the pickle he is said to have invented.

He resided for some years at Sukyoji Temple in the nearby castle town of Izushi and is said to have been a frequent visitor to Kinosaki's onsens.

On the hillside just above the temple is a Rakuju Kannon statue that I didn't visit, but the rock garden in front of the main gate has several other Kannon statues as well as a Fdo and a Jizo.

The main hall is registered as an Important Cultural property even though it was built in 1921, it seems quite elegant. The main gate is also registered and dates back to the late 17th century.

The water in the Tsukubai basin is piped from a sacred spring behind the temple famed for its healing qualities and said to have been discovered by the monk who discovered the hot spring and founded the nearby Onsenji Temple.

The jewel in the crown of the temple though is the Seikantei "dry" garden which features sections of both black gravel and white gravel .

 The honzon of the temple is an Amida Nyorai, and there is also a Koshin-do in the grounds (photo below)

The previous post was on the magnificent Seikantei Garden. Also nearby is Onsenji Temple

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Shofukuji Temple Nagasaki


Shofukuji is the 4th of the Chinese temples built in Nagasaki during the Edo Period. Like  nearby Fukusaiji Temple, it is not located in Teramachi like Sofukuji and Kofukuji, but north of the river.

The Sanmon, the main gate, was built in 1703. Along with the other main structures of Shofukuji, it is an Important Cultural Property and is currently undergoing major renovation.

Shofukuji was founded in 1677 by a disciple of Ingen, the founder of the  Obaku sect of Zen which had been founded in 1661. The other three Chinese temples became Obaku after 1661, but Shofukuji is the only one founded as Obaku.

The Tenmoden was built in 1705. The Japanese carpenters had started to slightly adapt and alter the Chinese style architecture.

When I visited in 2014 the place was deserted, somewhat run-down, and with no entry fee, so this contributed to an atmosphere. It is now undergoing major renovations so I suspect it will have an entry fee in the future.

The Tenmoden Hall contains a large statue of Hotei, one of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japan, and originally a Chinese monk named Budai. In the West, he is often referred to as the Laughing Buddha.

The main hall, Daiyuhoden, was built in 1697. Unlike the other Chinese temples in Nagasaki, much of the woodwork here was left unpainted.

The Bell Tower was built in 1716. Unusually the bell was not "donated" to the war effort in the 1940's like most temple bells.

Another difference between Shofukuji and the other Chinese temples in Nagasaki is that Shofukuji always had Japanese priests, whereas the other three started with Chinese priests.

The Kawarabei is an old wall constructed using old rooftiles and other decorations like Onigawara. Another thing to look out for is a monument to a young woman named Oharu who was expelled from Japan when all foreigners, excluding the Dutch, were expelled. Any Japanese families of Europeans expelled were also exiled. Also in 2020 a statue of Ryoma Sakamoto was erected to memorialize a meeting that took place here between the Tosa and Kishu clans.

The previous post in this series documenting my explorations of Nagasaki on Day 60 of my Kyushu Pilgrimage was on the statuary and architectural details of Kofukuiji Temple.

Saturday, September 9, 2023

Kofukuji Temple Details


Cracked Ice is the name given to this style of wooden lattice which was very populr in China in the 17th century. Irregular, and as seen here in a window at Kofukuji Temple in Nagasaki, it was made without using nails. This one originally had glass behind it but after the atomic bomb blast was replaced with wood.

Ther is not particularly a lot of statuary on display at Kofukuji, but I was happy to find a couple of Fudo Myo statues.

Known as Budon Mingwang in Chinese, I strongly suspect these were put here after the temple became Japanese.

While there are some Japanese features of the architecture of Kofukuji, most is Chinese, Ming in style. Many of the buildings, including 19th century rebuildings, were manufactured in China and sent to Nagasaki.

As I mentioned, there is not a lot of statuary at Kofukuji, and little in the way of formal gardens, but still I found it quite photogenic,... which is why I have so many photos, hence this second post.

The Gyoban, or "Fish Drum" is a male version. The ball in its mouth symbolizes human desire that is expelled when the drum is hit. Now a second, female, gyoban hangs below this one.

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Standing in front of the statue of Mazu are a pair of beings called Senrigan and Junpuji, said to have been tamed by Mazu. Junpuji means "ears that hear through the winds".

For more details and photos on Kofukuji, please see the previous post Kofukuji Temple.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Takuan Temple Izushi


Takuan Dera is a popular name for Sukyoji Temple in the former castle town of Izushi, Hyogo.

The name comes from Takuan Soho, a locally-born man who became quite a famous monk and for a while lived at the temple. His name has been given to the daikon radish pickles that it is said he invented while here.

The temple was founded at the end of the 14th Century and grew to be quite a sizable monastery and served as the family temple of the ruling clan. During the Warring States period the temple was mostly destroyed.

Along the approach road to the temple are several other temples with one having some rather unusual, carved wooden statues seen in the above two photos.

Takuan Soho returned to Izushi in 1616 at the request of the new Daimyo and began reconstructing the temple. He stayed 8 years and is said to have designed several of the gardens now at the temple. He is also said to have been a teacher of the famed swordsman Miyamoto Musashi.

The gardens are a popular attraction, especially in the Autumn, but the temple is also known for its "Zen Experience" activities that can be booked in advance.

This includes traditional temple food, including the famed pickles, and also sutra copying and other activities.

The primary activity though is zazen seated meditation, done in a meditation hall under the watchful eyes of a sword-yielding statue of Benzaiten

The previous post in this series on Toyooka and Izushi was the gardens of Sukyoji Temple.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Garden at Kozanji Temple


The garden at Kozanji Temple in Chofu, Yamaguchi, is neither well-known nor well-visited, though the temple itself and its grounds are usually crowded.

It's a large, Zen temple whose main hall is a National Treasure as it is one of the oldest Kara-yo buildings left in Japan. Kara-yo is the Chinese-influenced temple architecture that was introduced along with Zen in the 13th century and so is strongly associated with the Zen sects.

Kozanji is the 19th temple on the 33 temple Chugoku Kannon Pilgrimage, and that was the reason for my visit. While wandering the grounds I was approached by a priest who engaged me in conversation. Foreign visitors to the temple are certainly not rare, so maybe he was intrigued by my pilgrim jacket.

Anyway, it was he who suggested I seek out and visit the garden which is tucked away at the side of one of the main halls and seems to have been designed to be viewed from what I presume to be the abbots residence.

The garden has a pond as well as some shaped azalea bushes, lanterns, etc but was very shaded and primarily a moss garden. Less-manicured than most zen gardens, it was also very shaded.

Far more restrained than the huge Chofuteien stroll-type garden I had visited earlier that morning. Next up I head to the nearby Mori Mansion gardens

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Gardens at Kennin-Ji Temple

The Gardens at Kennin-Ji Temple

Kennin-ji in Gion was the first Zen temple established in Kyoto in 1202. My wife grew up in a house literally next door to the temple so I visited it often. The Chouontei garden is quite well known and features the classic triad of central stones.

Another famous garden in the temple is the Circle-Triangle-Square garden, but I don't show any photos of it in this post.

Seeing is not a passive act. Though we can grasp a scene in a single glimpse, mostly we "read" a scene or a garden. Our eyes move around from point to point and are drawn to specific points and aspects. An artist, or a garden designer, will instinctively know this as part of the process.

I take photos of things my eyes are drawn to. A simple enough thing to say, but less easy to explain.

"God is in the details" is a well-known quote with multiple possible meanings, but if God is truth, and truth is beauty, both two statements that are arguable but which I tend to agree with, then my eyes are drawn to beauty and this is what I attempt to capture with my camera.