Thursday, September 7, 2023

Kofukuji Temple Nagasaki


Kofukuji was the first of the four"Chinese" temples built in Nagasaki.

The Sanmon, main gate, is the largest temple gate in Nagasaki and was rebuilt in Japanese style in 1690 following the destruction by fire of the original Chinese style gate built in 1654, when the Chinese Zen master known in Japan as Ingen was in residence.

The main hall, Daio Hoden, was originally built in 1632 and then rebuilt in 1689 following the fire . It was damaged by a storm in 1865 and then rebuilt in its current form in 1883. Chinese in style, all the wood was prepared in China and shipped to Nagasaki.

The Sanko Kaisha Gate is all that remains of a compound built within the temple grounds for Chinese from the three SE provinces and included lodgings and meeting halls. All except the gate were severely damaged by the atom bomb blast and subsequently demolished.

Kofukuji was established as a Buddhist temple in 1623 toffer funerals and memorial services to the resident Chinese and also possibly to affirm to the authorities that the Chinese were not in any way Christian.

The Honzon enshrined in the main hall is the historical Buddha, known as Shaka Nyorai in Japanese and Daio in Chinese.

The temple expanded greatly after the arrival and residence of  the Chinese monk Yin Yuan, known as Ingen in Japanese. He brought the latest zen teachings and later founded Manpukuji Temple in Kyoto and subsequently the Obaku sect. Kofukuji then became an Obaku temple.

The Maso Do, or Mazu Hall, dates back to 1670 replacing the original that was destroyed by fire. A shrine to Mazu, a seafaring goddess carried on all Chinese ships, was the origin of Kofukuji Temple. The building is completely Chinese in style with many specifically Obaku features.

The gyoban is a wooden fish that is struck like a bell to call monks to meals and is found at many zen temples. The one here at Kofukuji is quite magnificent.

The Maso -do is mostly Japanese architecturally, though some features are obaku.

The belfry is also jaanese in style. The bell was "donated" to the war effort, like many temple bells, in the 1940's

The previous post in this series on day 60 of my Kyushu Pilgrimage was Enmeiji, the temple next door.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Togakuji Temple Matsue


Togakuji is a large Soto Zen temple located in the Okudani area of Matsue City, north of the castle.

The entrance passes through a nice raked gravel garden with pine trees.

Throughout the grounds are numerous "cute" statues

As well as many mizuko jizo

This Fudo Myo is in the same hall that houses the 500 Rakan, or arhats, disciples of the Buddha.

They were carved locally between the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century.

The temple was built by the mother of Kojiro Horio, a grandchild of Yoshiharu Horio, the head of the Matsue Domain and builder of Matsue Castle.

Kojiro died young in 1609 and in 1610 the memorial temple was built for him.

Originally located near Gassan Toda Castle, it was moved to its current site in 1613 following the building of Matsue Castle.

The large cemetery contains the tombs and graves of quite a few important local dignitaries.

The area of Okudani is not well visited by tourists but there are several more nice temples and shrines in the vicinity.

The previous post in this series was on the Meimei-an Teahouse Gardens just north of the castle.

Enmeiji Temple 65 Kyushu Pilgrimage


Enmeiji is temple number 65 on the Kyushu 108 temple Shingon Pilgrimage.

It is located near the famous Megane Bridge in Teramachi, Nagasaki City, between Kofukuji Temple, the famous Chinese temple, and Kotaiji.

It is also on the Nagasaki Shikoku Pilgrimage and the Kyushu Kannon Pilgrimage.

The honzon is a Dainichi Nyorai, and the temple belongs to the Omuro sect of Shingon.

It was founded in 1616 by a monk from what is now Okayama.

In the early 20th century the temple began offering welfare services to the elderly and now operates a large nursing home in the grounds.

I visited in mid February, 2014, on day 60 of my walk along the pilgrimage.

The previous post in this series was on Kotaiji Temple next door.

Monday, September 4, 2023

Mima Snapshots


Mima is a town located on the Yoshino River in Tokushima on Shikoku. I was heading west, upstream, on day 3 of my walk along the Shikoku Fudo Myo Pilgrimage and was happy to be exploring an area I had never visited before.

I was on the north bank of the river and once I visited a temple further upstream in Miyoshi I would be heading back downstream on the southern bank. The further upstream I went the narrower and steeper the valley became. Though it was December 18th there was still plenty of colour left on some trees.

Up in the mountains of Mima is a small village, Nagoro,  now made famous as the Village of Dolls, where a local woman has replaced all the former residents with life-size dolls. She was not the first to do this, but down along the main road was another example. In the Kunisaki area of Kyushu I found something similar, Not The Village Of Dolls.

It had been a productive morning starting with a pilgrimage temple visit, then a nice 18th-century farmhouse, followed by a vintage wooden theatre, and then the preservation district of Wakimachi.

As usual, I stopped in at every shrine I passed in the hope of seeing something unusual, and at one shrine I was not disappointed. Instead of the usual komainu guardian statues, often translated at Korean Lion-Dogs, there were a pair of African Lions. I have seen this before, once at a shrine east of Matsue in Shimane, and once at a shrine in Hiroshima City.

Some crumpled up old electrical cable sticking out of the wall of an agricultural out-building. Or, some of the amazing public art that surrounds no matter where we are.

Not sure what Mickey and Minnie are advertising here,.... good chance its not aimed at children either. used to like Mickey Mouse and Disney when I was very young..... not sure what the attraction is to adults though....

At another shrine, this time with regular komainu, the Gingko was in full splendor. For me, November and December are the best times for travelling in Japan. I am heading towards a teramachi, an area where Buddhist  temples are gathered together in one area. The previous post in this series on the Shikoku Fudo Myo Pilgrimage was Wakimachi.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Kotaiji Temple Nagasaki


The next big temple after Daionji along Teramachi in Nagasaki is Kotaiji, and there was a little bit more to see here.

The first building you come to is the Kegonkaku, the Great Buddha Hall, built in 1723.

It houses a 3.4 meter tall red statue of the Vairocana Buddha, known in Japan as Dainichi Nyorai.

Kotaiji was founded in 1608 and was moved to its current location in 1626. It belongs to the Soto Zen sect and the honzon is a Shaka Triad, the historical Buddha flanked by two guardians.

The honzon was donated to the temple by a wealthy man named Takasuri who also paid the construction costs of the nearby Megane Bridge. The bridge was originally part of the approach to Kotaiji Temple and the main gate used to be located closer to the bridge.

The Niomon gate was built in 1680 and is said to be the oldest existing shrine or temple gate in Nagasaki.

The pair of Nio, however, only date back to 1985 and the originals had deteriorated too much.

The main hall was built in 1663 and is made out of teak.

The Zendo, meditation hall, was built in 1832.

Zazen mediation sessions are available for foreign visitors.

The previous post was on Daionji Temple next door.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Kinosaki Onsen Ropeway


Kinosaki is a very popular hot spring resort near the Sea of Japan in northern Hyogo that is easily accessible from the big cities of Kansai by regular express trains.

Occupying a narrow valley that runs into the Maruyama River and from the top end of the town there is a ropeway running up Mount Daishi.

The top station is at 230 meters above sea level and from it you have great views down on the town and out to the sea. There is also a cafe here and the okunoin of Onsenji Temple. There is a hiking path down the mountain to the temple and then on down to the town as well as further up into the mountains.

The length of the ropeway is just 676 meters and it takes just 7 minutes. 

Unusual for ropeways, the Kinosaki Ropeway stops at an intermediary station on its way up and down. Onsenji Station is adjacent to the main buildings of Onsenji Temple.

Previously I have posted a brief introduction to Kinosaki Onsen. Another ropeway I posted about recently was the Kankakei Gorge Ropeway on Shodshima.