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  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 022, five-story pagoda
    Muroji, 022, five-story pagoda

    This image of the five-story pagoda shows it in its environment, which is set into the forest, on the level above the Initiation Hall. Because it is not next to another structure, which would provide a sense of scale, one is not aware of the fact that this pagoda is, in fact, perhaps the shortest pagoda in Japan, at a height of about one half of that of many other pagodas. Despite that relatively diminutive scale, it is an exceptionally graceful creation and it has been designated as a National Treasure. The pagoda, along with the kondo, is one of the two oldest buildings extant at Murõji and it probably is the older of the two, with recently discovered evidence indicating that it probably was built c. 800. Unlike the kondo, it probably has undergone little change over the millennium since its erection, and when we look at it we may well be seeing what it looked like when completed around 1,200 years ago. This particular image of the pagoda was taken in the summer of 2000, after the restoration of late 1998 - 1999. Another image, ecasia000026, was taken in 1998, before the restoration, as evidenced by the age of the painted surface. In late September, 1998, between the time of the making of those two images, a typhoon uprooted some of the massive Japanese cedars, the crytomeria trees, near the pagoda and one of the falling giants struck the roofs at the rear of the pagoda, seriously damaging them. Funds were raised immediately for a careful rebuilding, restoration of the damaged portion and the work was completed almost immediately. Image ecasia000022 shows a poster that was produced at the time of the restoration effort and image ecasia000043 shows a detail from the bottom of the poster, which includes photos of the damage and of the restoration work in progress.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 031, gravestones to the side of the stairs leading to the Hall of Eternal Light (Hall for Memorial Tablets)
    Muroji, 031, gravestones to the side of the stairs leading to the Hall of Eternal Light (Hall for Memorial Tablets)

    Perhaps one hundred yards to the left and behind the pagoda, one begins a steep ascent up the side of the mountain to the Hall of Eternal Light. The stone steps lead one up the side of the hill in almost a straight line, going up the side of the hill for perhaps a quarter of a mile. At one point, off to the side of the stairs leading up the mountainside, one sees this short set of stone steps leading up to a niche carved out of the hill, where there is this small group of memorial stones.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 016, rectangular pool in front of the Kanjodo, Main Hall
    Muroji, 016, rectangular pool in front of the Kanjodo, Main Hall

    A view of the rectangular pool that lies in front of the Main Hall, the Kanjodo, the initiation hall, at Muroji. This is viewed with the hall at one's back, looking across the pool in the direction of the Muro River and Muro village on the other side of the river. There are orange koi in the pool and, in the spring, the surface of the pool is covered with petals of blossoms from nearby trees.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 003, entrance path and bridge across Muro River
    Muroji, 003, entrance path and bridge across Muro River

    On the right side of the image, above the woman walking on the path, may be seen the bridge that crosses the Muro River. On the far side of the river (a stream at this point) is Muro village. In the foreground is the path that leads from the bridge to the entrance gate at Muroji (to the left, out of the photo).

  • Thumbnail for Daibutsuden, the Great Buddha Hall, at Todaiji, Nara, a video tour
    Daibutsuden, the Great Buddha Hall, at Todaiji, Nara, a video tour

    This movie presents a walk through the Daibutsuden, the Great Buddha Hall, at the temple, Todaiji, in Nara, Japan. The video is approximately 10 minutes long and is comprised of 7 minutes of a walking tour through the Daibutsuden, with ambient sound, but no narration, and concludes with 3 minutes of scrolling text narrative. Created in mini-DV format, it is presented here as a QuickTime movie, compressed to CD-ROM quality. Depending upon your set-up, the video may open directly on your screen or it may be downloaded to your desktop. Download in either case normally may take from 3 to 5 minutes, although it may take longer if you are working with a slow connection.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 036,  Founder's Portrait Hall
    Muroji, 036, Founder's Portrait Hall

    Next to the Hall for Memorial Tablets is a Founder's Portrait Hall, a 14th century memorial to the 8th century priest, Kukai. Kukai had traveled to China, where he studied under a great Chinese master, Huiguo. Kukai was named the successor to Huiguo, but instead of remaining in China, he returned to Japan, where he founded the Shingon school of esoteric Buddhism. He was intimately tied to the history of the great complex at Mt. Koya and to the history of Muroji. On the hill behind the Founder's Hall is a seven-story stone stupa, said to mark the secluded spot to which Kukai came to sit.½he Portrait Hall, itself, contains a wooden sculpture of Kukai as an object of veneration.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 028, gravestones on mountainside, behind pagoda
    Muroji, 028, gravestones on mountainside, behind pagoda

    As one walks down the mountainside from the Hall of Eternal Light, the Hall for Memorial Tablets,when one reaches the point where stairs end on relatively level ground, one sees the five-story pagoda ahead, slightly to the left of the path, beyond a group of crytomeria trees. In the foreground on the left, next to the path are, again, a group of memorial stones marking the graves of monks from the temple community from centuries past.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 015, detail of Haiden
    Muroji, 015, detail of Haiden

    Detail of the Haiden, hall for worship, directly to the east of the Mirokudo and south of the Golden Hall.

  • Thumbnail for Todaiji, Nandaimon, the Great South Gate, Nara
    Todaiji, Nandaimon, the Great South Gate, Nara

    This is a photograph of the Nandaimon, the Great South Gate, at Todaiji in Nara. Taken in early December, with mist and fog in the chilly late afternoon air, it conveys a sense of mood of time and place. It was taken from inside the outer precinct of the temple, looking out through the gate - i.e., this is the gate viewed from inside the temple compound. -- In retaliation for support of the Minamoto clan by armed monks from Todaiji, at the end of the Genpei civil war, the Taira clan burned the compound at Todaiji to the ground in 1180. When the Minamoto emerged victorious, they vowed to rebuild the Todaiji compound and did so by the end of the 12th century. -- The other buildings in the Todaiji compound have been damaged by fire or earthquakes over the centuries and most have been rebuilt in different styles. The Nandaimon, the Great South Gate, alone, remains in its original form, that which was built in the late 12th century.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 035, Hall for Memorial Tablets, view from the porch at side of Hall
    Muroji, 035, Hall for Memorial Tablets, view from the porch at side of Hall

    This is a view looking down the mountain path from the porch of the Hall of Eternal Light. The image conveys a sense of the quiet beauty of the temple's isolated location in a crytomeria forest, in the mountains of Nara Prefecture, southeast of Nara City.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 014,  Haiden, hall for worship, seen from veranda of the Golden Hall.
    Muroji, 014, Haiden, hall for worship, seen from veranda of the Golden Hall.

    Directly in front of the Golden Hall, on the south side, is an open area, which is used for ceremonies. The Mirokudo is on the western side of the open area, facing to the east. The small building in this image is on the eastern side of the open area. It is a building for worship, used to honor the dragon of Ryuketsu Shrine, which is directly to the east of Muroji. One of two straw dragons constructed as part of the Autumn Ryuketsu Shrine Festival is hung from a tree in the open area here at Muroji, while the other is hung by the river in front of the shrine, part of an interesting intermingling of rituals between the temple and the shrine.