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  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Corridor stairs leading to main temple
    Hasedera - Corridor stairs leading to main temple

    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.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Main entrance
    Hasedera - Main entrance

    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

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - View alongside covered stairs
    Hasedera - View alongside covered stairs

    The ascending garden along the stairs is filled with gorgeous hydrangea (called "ajisai" in Japanese) in the summer.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Bell tower at top of stairs
    Hasedera - Bell tower at top of stairs

    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.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Monks walking  up  stairs
    Hasedera - Monks walking up stairs

    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.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Shrine at foot of main temple hall
    Hasedera - Shrine at foot of main temple hall

    Approaching the main hall from the stairs one can see this small shrine to the left. Behind it is the massive main hall.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Top of the stairs
    Hasedera - Top of the stairs

    Upon almost reaching the end of the covered stairways, there is a small landing where one is greeted by a small red Shinto shrine dedicated to a local deity.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Kannon statue
    Hasedera - Kannon statue

    Infrared photo of Kannon image in main hall.

  • 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 - Alongside covered stairway
    Hasedera - Alongside covered stairway

    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.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Five-layered pagoda
    Hasedera - Five-layered pagoda

    This view of Hasedera's lovely pagoda, or stupa, is from the balcony of the main hall, where a bell is visible hanging from the corner of an eave.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Kannon statue
    Hasedera - Kannon statue

    This is an infrared photo of the tall Kannon image of the main hall.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - View from inside main gate
  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Interior of main hall
    Hasedera - Interior of main hall

    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.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - One building in temple complex
    Hasedera - One building in temple complex

    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.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Balcony surrounding main hall
    Hasedera - Balcony surrounding main hall

    The main hall at Hasedera commands a superb view of nearby hills that can be seen from various angles from the wooden balcony.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Kannon face
    Hasedera - Kannon face

    Close-up of Kannon image in main hall.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Kannon statue
    Hasedera - Kannon statue

    Kannon image in main hall.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Pathway to sub-temple at Hasedera
    Hasedera - Pathway to sub-temple at Hasedera

    A pathway from the main plaza leads to this sub-temple. To the right are numerous stone statues of Jizo lining the walkway. These are commonly donated, and dressed with aprons and caps, by faithful who have lost a child (usually while in the womb) with hopes that the soul will fare well.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Ema before main shrine
    Hasedera - Ema before main shrine

    Here hang the b&quoema," or tablets upon which faithful write personal wishes that they want the deity of the shrine to assist in fulfilling. These hang just in front of the shrine, which is behind and to the right of the photographer here.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Shrine
    Hasedera - Shrine

    Just behind the main plaza is this Shinto shrine dedicated to the local deity.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Entrance
    Hasedera - Entrance

    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.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - The main gate
    Hasedera - The main gate

    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

  • 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 Ikuta Jinja - Main gate of Ikuta Jinja
    Ikuta Jinja - Main gate of Ikuta Jinja

    This large and famous shrine is just uphill from the main shopping area of Sannomiya in downtown Kobe. Its quiet grounds present a great contrast to the thriving cosmopolitan center just outside the gate. Many Japanese shrines preserve some of the only undeveloped land and large trees in urban areas.