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  • 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 - 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 - 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 - Scripture Hall
    Hasedera - Scripture 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.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Close-up view of main hall
    Hasedera - Close-up view of main hall

    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.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Fudo image
    Hasedera - Fudo image

    An image of the fierce-looking protective deity Fudo-myo-o enshrined within the temple in cocrejpn0030.

  • Thumbnail for Forest scene enroute to Okunoin
    Forest scene enroute to Okunoin

    The space beside the pathway is often filled with a vast collection of devotional pieces likely placed by different people centuries apart. The scenery weaves a tale of religious sentiment right into the very fabric of the forest.

  • Thumbnail for Family shrine in forest
    Family shrine in forest

    One of many, many shrines in the forest near Okunoin dedicated to the ancestors of a private family.

  • Thumbnail for Kannon statue in forest
    Kannon statue in forest

    Along the path to Okunoin are many graceful statues. This one is of the bodhisattva of compassion Kannon (Kuan-yin in China). It looks almost as if it were a curving tree itself.

  • Thumbnail for Plaque describing shrine for soldiers who died in World War Two.
    Plaque describing shrine for soldiers who died in World War Two.

    This plaque describes the full shrine visible in cocrejpn0143.

  • Thumbnail for View of many grave stones
    View of many grave stones

    Visible in the background is a small hill of Jizo statues, seen close up in photo 168.

  • Thumbnail for Random shrine and statue along Okunoin path
  • Thumbnail for Forest bridge in Koyasan
  • Thumbnail for New grave marker
    New grave marker

    This new stone rests on a site that must have held a much older marker before. I believe the inscription on the sphere reads, "Meet together in one place," which would refer to a belief that some Buddhists have that they will join together after death in the Pure Land of the Buddha Amida.

  • Thumbnail for Tour group at Koyasan
    Tour group at Koyasan

    The guide (arms up in green shirt) leads a tour through the forest path enroute to Okunoin.

  • Thumbnail for Two old temples within the Garan complex
  • Thumbnail for View of the path from the forest
  • Thumbnail for Old and new in Okunoin
    Old and new in Okunoin

    The stump from an old cryptomeria tree, likely six hundred years or more in age when it was felled, provides the fertile ground for the growth of a small new sapling. A striking visual metaphor for life, death and renewal?

  • Thumbnail for Memorial for Employees of Nissan Motor Company
    Memorial for Employees of Nissan Motor Company

    This gravesite is dedicated to the deceased employees of Nissan Motor Company.

  • Thumbnail for Kongobuji temple facade
    Kongobuji temple facade

    A carved dragon such as this one can be found adorning many temple buildings in Japan.

  • Thumbnail for View from Tamagawa bridge
    View from Tamagawa bridge

    Across the bridge and down the path we can see visitors gathered at the foot of the stairs to Kobo Daishi's mausoleum.

  • Thumbnail for Small shrine in Koyasan
    Small shrine in Koyasan

    This small Shinto shrine is in a grove of trees across the street from the Kongobuji temple.

  • Thumbnail for Mound of Buddhas
    Mound of Buddhas

    This is the same mound in other photos viewed here from a distance.

  • Thumbnail for Stairs to Kobo Daishi's mausoleum
    Stairs to Kobo Daishi's mausoleum

    This is the view of the mausoleum from the near side of the Tamagawa bridge.

  • Thumbnail for Path from Kongobuji to the Garan complex