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.
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.
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
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.
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.
An image of the fierce-looking protective deity Fudo-myo-o enshrined within the temple in cocrejpn0030.
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.
One of many, many shrines in the forest near Okunoin dedicated to the ancestors of a private family.
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.
This plaque describes the full shrine visible in cocrejpn0143.
Visible in the background is a small hill of Jizo statues, seen close up in photo 168.
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.
The guide (arms up in green shirt) leads a tour through the forest path enroute to 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?
This gravesite is dedicated to the deceased employees of Nissan Motor Company.
A carved dragon such as this one can be found adorning many temple buildings in Japan.
Across the bridge and down the path we can see visitors gathered at the foot of the stairs to Kobo Daishi's mausoleum.
This small Shinto shrine is in a grove of trees across the street from the Kongobuji temple.
This is the same mound in other photos viewed here from a distance.
This is the view of the mausoleum from the near side of the Tamagawa bridge.