This enlarged version of part of the image in file no. ecasia000001.jpg shows some of the lines engraved in the stone to depict an image of the Miroku Buddha. Again, the carving dates from 1207 or 1208, and is along the bank of the Muro River, along the approach to Muroji. The pattern of parallel curved lines in the image is stylistically interesting and might be compared with the linear pattern of the robe folds in the sculpture that is the central image in the kondo at Muroji, a sculpture that dates from the Heian period (image I.D. ecasia000007.jpg) or with the sculpture of the seated Shaka (ecasia000012.jpg), from the Mirokudo, Muroji, which dates from early Heian period.
Along the side of the steps up the side of the mountain, one sees this Jizo figure. The Jizo is a spirit that cares for the souls of children who have died and the Jizo statues are very common throughout Japan, especially in temple compounds. The offerings left with this Jizo are interesting and mildly humorous, since the offerings include a container of "One Cup Ozeki," a brand of sake that can be purchased from vending machines. Also interesting are the branches in the vases, which appear to be branches of sakaki, a plant usually associated with Shinto, although there frequently are "cross-overs" between Buddhist and Shinto practices in Japan. (Sake, likewise, is usually associated with the Shinto offerings of sake, salt, and rice, associated with purification, as seen in images from the Hachiman Shrine in Morioka.) Some excellent information in these areas may be found in the Colorado College collection dealing with Japanese religion, materials contributed by Professor David Gardiner.
This image shows a detail of the exterior of the kondo at Muroji. It is front corner of the kondo, showing the veranda that runs across the front of kondo (see image 000008) and the bay at the front of the kondo, which extends along the front also, forming a worship space inside the kondo. The veranda and the front bay were added to the original structure during the Kamakura period and their addition necessitated the extension of the roof, resulting in the peculiar structure seen here.
Detail of the Haiden, hall for worship, directly to the east of the Mirokudo and south of the Golden Hall.
Standing on the veranda on the left side of the Initiation Hall, looking up, back, and to the left of the Initiation Hall, one sees the five-story pagoda that rises through the trees behind the Initiation Hall. This image gives a clear sense of the location of the pagoda in relation to the Initiation Hall and also a clear indication of the lack of symmetry of the positioning of the various elements of the compound at Muroji.
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.