This lovely covered stairway (nobori-ro) originally dates from 1039 but was reconstructed in the Meiji period. The stone lanterns and flowering shrubs on both sides make for an exquisite ascending garden, while at night the spherical lamps above cast a fine glow. The pillar on the left says that this is a place where heavenly deities reside, which is a Shinto-esque reference, while one not visible to its right states that Buddhas also are active here.
This bell tower adorns the top of the stairway. One enters this central plaza from the stairway just beneath the bell. The main hall stands just to the right (behind the palm tree). The white spherical lanterns are visible there. From this plaza, the views of surrounding hills are superb.
An image of the fierce-looking protective deity Fudo-myo-o enshrined within the temple in cocrejpn0030.
This is an infrared photo of the tall Kannon image of the main hall.
This is the stairway leading to the main entrance to the temple. One arrives here from the Kintetsu Hasedera Station. Unless the weather is very inclement, it is best to walk from the station about 20 to 30 minutes through the streets of this traditional temple town where there are many small shops and places to stop for a meal or a snack.<br>Hasedera dates from the earliest period of Japanese Buddhism and has maintained a long affiliation with the Shingon school. It was founded in 686 by Domyo, and the central, larger-than-life eleven-headed statue of Kannon dates from 727. It is a sprawling and beautiful complex.
The folks dressed in white are pilgrims to the temple who commonly carry a staff that symbolizes the eternal copresence of the founder of the Shingon School, the great ninth century saint Kobo Daishi (also known as Kukai). So real is his presence believed to be that written on the back of their white coats is 1ctwo of us, practicing together. 1d
All Buddhist temples in Japan have a bell that is usually covered by an elaborate roof. The bell is rung by a large log suspended by chains, and it resonates with a deep gong-like sound for many seconds.
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.
This hall enshrines a portrait of the founder of the Shingon school of Japanese Buddhism, Kobo Daishi (Kukai).
Yet another of the many sub-temples in the complex.
Just behind the main plaza is this Shinto shrine dedicated to the local deity.
Kannon image in main hall.
A view through the gate of one of the larger sub-temples within the Hasedera complex.
A close-up of the main hall as seen from the sub-temple in cocrejpn0024. Note the bell tower at the top of the stairway to the right.
Hasedera is an active training ground for Shingon Buddhist priests, who can be seen moving about the complex. Their prayers can often be heard resounding within many of the temple buildings, in which groups will chant in a hauntingly beautiful traditional manner.
The hilly complex at Hasedera encompasses many interesting buildings, each with a unique design that features particular combinations of stone, wood, tile, and painted mud walls, as well as careful landscaping.
The spacious interior of the main hall has natural light entering from three sides. The central image of Kannon is just off the right edge of this photo, behind the glass case for candle offerings to the bodhisattva.
The main hall at Hasedera commands a superb view of nearby hills that can be seen from various angles from the wooden balcony.
View of five-layered pagoda from balcony of main hall.
Close-up of Kannon image in main hall.
Copies of scriptures hand-scribed by the faithful are stored in this hall. Many short, and sometimes long, Buddhist texts are copied as part of a practice that accumulates merit. The Heart Sutra (Hannya Shingyo) is a one-page text widely copied throughout Buddhist East Asia. This merit is often dedicated to a deceased or ill loved-one with the hope that they fare well.
This is the view of the perimeter of the stairs leading to the main temple visible above. The terraces and the rain gutter are made of hand-placed stone. Note the small stone bridges apparently designed for access to the plants across the gutter.
Approaching the main hall from the stairs one can see this small shrine to the left. Behind it is the massive main hall.
The ascending garden along the stairs is filled with gorgeous hydrangea (called "ajisai" in Japanese) in the summer.
Infrared photo of Kannon image in main hall.