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  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - from a bridge
    Hasedera - from a bridge

    This is a view of the Hasedera temple, on the hill, from a bridge leading to a shrine dedicated to the protecting deity of the temple.

  • Thumbnail for Jizo with children
    Jizo with children

    The same Jizo as in cocrejpn0159.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Shrine souveniers and amulets
    Ikuta Jinja - Shrine souveniers and amulets

    This young woman works in a stall that sells various types of amulets (o-mamori). Many Japanese visitors will purchase one when they visit a major shrine such as Ikuta Jinja. They will often keep it near them until their next visit (and purchase), in places such as in their purse, tied onto a back pack, or hanging from a car mirror.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Instructions for worship at a shrine
    Ikuta Jinja - Instructions for worship at a shrine

    This sign instructs those (probably of younger generations) who need a reminder how to worship (from right to left): "First you bow twice with back bent to ninety degrees and head lowered. Then you clap your hands twice at chest level. Then bow one last time."

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Torii lined path
    Ikuta Jinja - Torii lined path

    This short path leading to a small shrine within the Ikuta Jinja compound is lined by vermillion torii. Many Shinto shrines will have paths almost covered by torii in this manner. The torii are commonly erected on behalf of donors to the shrine.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Plaza beside main hall
    Hasedera - Plaza beside main hall

    This plaza connects the bell tower, main hall, and temple shop.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Main hall balcony and pagoda
    Hasedera - Main hall balcony and pagoda

    View of five-layered pagoda from balcony of main hall.

  • Thumbnail for Streetside stall selling religious decorations
    Streetside stall selling religious decorations

    Many such stalls in Koyasan sell evergreen fronds to people for embellishing their family altars at home where ancestors are revered. This one is in a spot very characteristic of Koyasan: the old stone wall behind and the line of toriis heading up a path to the left bespeak the charm of this old mountain town (founded in the early 9th century) with its limitless reminders of traditional religion.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Old tree stump enshrined
    Ikuta Jinja - Old tree stump enshrined

    An old tree stump within the Ikuta Jinja is herein celebrated by having its own enclosed space. Wrapped around it is a "himorogi," which is a rope with stylized paper strips hanging from it that traditionally demarcates any sort of sacred space. Large old trees are frequently honored in this regard; the presence of the himorogi will prompt some Japanese visitors to place their hands together and bow briefly before such a tree. This particular tree, however, is unique because it survived the ravages of war. See the explanation accompanying the photo of the wooden plaque pictured in cocrejpn0087.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - An ema with a wish
    Ikuta Jinja - An ema with a wish

    This ema reads, "May my family be happy and live joyously and brightly. May we all be happy."

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Banner on main gate of Ikuta Jinja
    Ikuta Jinja - Banner on main gate of Ikuta Jinja

    This banner advertises an upcoming festival, on July 15th, that will feature the lighting of a thousand lanterns, the rope circle through which one may walk (chinuwa kuguri), and a purification rite aimed at "countering obstacles, eliminating illness and vanquishing troubles."

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - An ema with a wish
    Ikuta Jinja - An ema with a wish

    This ema, written in an accomplished calligraphic style, reads, " For the curing of illness -- [Name] -- December 26, 1957. Please, somehow, help."

  • Thumbnail for Kashima Miya - Main entrance to Kashima Shrine
    Kashima Miya - Main entrance to Kashima Shrine

    This angle shows the stone basin where the worshippers cleanse themselves, as well as the small administrative structure adjacent to the main hall.

  • Thumbnail for Kashima Miya - Grounds of Kashima Shrine
    Kashima Miya - Grounds of Kashima Shrine

    Here you can see the small shrine to the right that is also part of the compound.

  • Thumbnail for Kashima Miya - Close-up of mini-shrine
  • Thumbnail for Kashima Miya - Right "wing" at Kashima Shrine
  • Thumbnail for Main gate of Henjoko-in at Koyasan
    Main gate of Henjoko-in at Koyasan

    This is just one of hundreds of such massive entrance gates to a temple in the town of Koyasan.

  • Thumbnail for Ichi no hashi bridge entrance to Oku-no-in
    Ichi no hashi bridge entrance to Oku-no-in

    This is the bridge marking the entrance to what is often called Japan's grandest -- both largest and most magnificent -- cemetery. A two kilometer (1.3 mile) stone path through an ancient cryptomeria forest leads to the tomb of Kukai (posthumously Kobo Daishi), founder of the Shingon school and the first to found a temple at Koyasan, in 817. Throughout the forest along both sides of the path, and often up and over small hills behind the trees, are thousands upon thousands of gravestones that have been built up around Kukai's tomb over the millenia.

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Main shrine hall
    Minatogawa Jinja - Main shrine hall

    This is the newly constructed main hall. It was destroyed in the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, and rebuilt in reinforced concrete.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Amulets
    Ikuta Jinja - Amulets

    Most of the amulets (o-mamori) shown here are for success in academics, either for good grades or for passing an entrance exam into the school of your choice. The prices here, which are more or less standard, range from 500 to 1000 yen (from $4-$8).

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Enshrined tree
    Ikuta Jinja - Enshrined tree

    Another photo of the tree that survived WWII.

  • Thumbnail for Seated Jizo with children
    Seated Jizo with children

    Jizo comes in many forms. This newer statue has him seated in a traditional meditation posture. He holds the children, who are the timeless objects of his vast mercy. The visual contrast here between the clean stone of the new Jizo image and the moss-covered worn stone lantern is one of the charms of this Okunoin trail. Centuries of devotion merge into one another. Our great grandchildren will see this Jizo with its own moss.

  • Thumbnail for Mound of stone Buddha images
    Mound of stone Buddha images

    Not far from the mausoleum is this perhaps centuries old mound, about ten feet (3 meters) high. It is dedicated to the spirits of those who died without anyone to remember them.

  • Thumbnail for Koyasan bell
    Koyasan bell

    The high roof covers a large bronze bell that is rung hourly. It can be heard throughout the entire town. When Kukai founded Koyasan in the early ninth century, he sought contributions to build a similar bell and argued that temple bells are a vital part of the community.

  • Thumbnail for The Miedo Hall in the Garan
    The Miedo Hall in the Garan

    The Miedo, meaning "Hall of the Honorable Portrait," houses an ancient portrait of Kukai, Koyasan's ninth century founder, said to have been painted by his disciple.