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  • 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 - 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 - Temple shop and pilgrim center
    Hasedera - Temple shop and pilgrim center

    At this building within the Hasedera complex, visitors can purchase amulets (o-mamori) and various memorablia. Here too pilgrims can receive a large stamp for placement in their "stamp book" which documents their visits to many holy places.

  • 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 - 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 Hasedera - Main hall balcony and pagoda
    Hasedera - Main hall balcony and pagoda

    View of five-layered pagoda from balcony of 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 - Fudo image
    Hasedera - Fudo image

    Statue of Fudo Myo-o within sub-temple.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Main gate
    Hasedera - Main gate

    An alternative view of the main gate from a garden within the temple complex.

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Community relations at Minatogawa Jinja
    Minatogawa Jinja - Community relations at Minatogawa Jinja

    Here shrine priests accompany a local business man to his car after emerging from the shrine's administrative building. Local businesses are often the greatest benefactors of a shrine. No doubt many business leaders believe that their relation to the shrine may help their business to prosper.

  • Thumbnail for Reconstruction of a wall in the forest
    Reconstruction of a wall in the forest

    Many of the centuries-old structures in the forest enroute to Okunoin are crumbling. Some of the more prominent ones close to the pathway are being restored.

  • Thumbnail for Grave with torii
    Grave with torii

    This old grave site has a large traditional stone and the space is nicely framed by a Shinto torii. This kind of complex shows how Buddhist and Shinto forms merge easily in Japanese sensibility.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Modern visitor
    Ikuta Jinja - Modern visitor

    This young woman sits in the shade on a ledge beside the main hall. She holds her cell phone and either reads or sends an email message.

  • Thumbnail for Miniature bronze stupa
    Miniature bronze stupa

    Along the path to Okunoin there are many thousands of carvings and other pieces of religious art. This is a miniature bronze stupa.

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Main shrine hall
    Minatogawa Jinja - Main shrine hall

    This is the newly constructed main hall. It was destroyed in the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, and rebuilt in reinforced concrete.

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Main shrine hall from a distance
    Minatogawa Jinja - Main shrine hall from a distance

    The two large lanterns flanking the approach are noteworthy.

  • Thumbnail for Jizo among the trees
    Jizo among the trees

    A standing statue of Jizo, who may not be as tall as the trees but he is ever so graceful.

  • Thumbnail for Random view along Okunoin path
  • Thumbnail for The Miedo Hall in the Garan
    The Miedo Hall in the Garan

    The Miedo, meaning "Hall of the Honorable Portrait," houses an ancient portrait of Kukai, Koyasan's ninth century founder, said to have been painted by his disciple.

  • Thumbnail for Pilgrims in front of the Great Pagoda
    Pilgrims in front of the Great Pagoda

    The Great Pagoda (Daito) is the most striking structure within the Garan complex in the western central part of Koyasan. The pagoda stands over 150 feet tall (48.5 meters). These pilgrims, who travel as a group in their white garb and are accompanied by priests in black robes, pray before the entrance of the pagoda toward the huge Buddha images inside.

  • Thumbnail for Sign along path to the Garan complex
    Sign along path to the Garan complex

    This long path leads from the Kongobuji temple to the Garan, which is a complex of buildings such as large pagodas and halls for worship. There are several signs like this one in Koyasan (often with their idiosyncratic English renderings) that show support for the town being recognized by UNESCO as a site on their World Heritage List. As of 2003 Japan has ten sites so recognized.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Plaque before enshrined tree
    Ikuta Jinja - Plaque before enshrined tree

    This plaque in front of the tree with the himorogi says that the tree was over 500 years old when it was severely injured by burns received in the bombing of Kobe during WWII. However, even though shattered, it managed to stay alive, and so became revered as a symbol of rebirth and resuscitation. The plaque refers to it as a "divine (kami) tree."

  • Thumbnail for Husband and wife images at gravesite
    Husband and wife images at gravesite

    This family site is the only one I have seen in Okunoin that displays a likeness of the deceased.

  • Thumbnail for Engraved calligraphy
    Engraved calligraphy

    This stone along the Okunoin trail, which reads "great compassion," was created from the calligraphy of someone named Tejima, who may well have been a famous calligrapher.

  • Thumbnail for Shrine along the path
    Shrine along the path

    This old shrine must have been dedicated to the ancestors of a family. It also has the torii entrance.