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.
This is the chandelier-like canopy above the statue of Kobo Daishi, in which are carved images of various Buddhas.
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.
This hall enshrines a portrait of the founder of the Shingon school of Japanese Buddhism, Kobo Daishi (Kukai).
The main hall is flanked on both the left and right by smaller shrines. Even in this newly constructed shrine in a contemporary suburban neighborhood the attention to traditional detail is noticeable.
This lovely sub-temple at Hasedera (same one as picture 24), offers a fine glimpse from its entrance way down a long corridor of the back garden.
This angle shows the stone basin where the worshippers cleanse themselves, as well as the small administrative structure adjacent to the main hall.
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.
A view through the gate of one of the larger sub-temples within the Hasedera complex.
This is an infrared photo of the tall Kannon image of the main hall.
This is the view of the main hall from the sub-temple shown in cocrejpn0024.
Statue of Fudo Myo-o within sub-temple.
This is the bridge marking the entrance to what is often called Japan's grandest -- both largest and most magnificent -- cemetery. A two kilometer (1.3 mile) stone path through an ancient cryptomeria forest leads to the tomb of Kukai (posthumously Kobo Daishi), founder of the Shingon school and the first to found a temple at Koyasan, in 817. Throughout the forest along both sides of the path, and often up and over small hills behind the trees, are thousands upon thousands of gravestones that have been built up around Kukai's tomb over the millenia.
Just behind the main plaza is this Shinto shrine dedicated to the local deity.
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.
This young woman works in a stall that sells various types of amulets (o-mamori). Many Japanese visitors will purchase one when they visit a major shrine such as Ikuta Jinja. They will often keep it near them until their next visit (and purchase), in places such as in their purse, tied onto a back pack, or hanging from a car mirror.
One of many old stone images in the forest.
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.
Like many graves, the main stone here has the geometric shapes marking Buddhist symbolism but the surrounding structures are clearly Shinto toriis. This natural blending of features of both traditions was exceedingly common in premodern Japan.
This is the newly constructed main hall. It was destroyed in the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, and rebuilt in reinforced concrete.
Unfortunately I do not have a photo of the plaque describing the reasons for placing this rope circle here!
The pillar to the left designates the small hall behind the tree as one dedicated to some practices of the Shingon school.
This is a "mikujior&quo box, from which one draws a paper packet in which is written a fortune. The fortune is printed on a small piece of paper and, if it is auspicious, a visitor will usually fold it into a long, thin strip and then tie it around a small branch of a tree in the shrine compound. It is as if this act also ties a bond between one's future and the deity of the temple: one wishes that the kami will help fulfill your good fortune. If the fortune does not bode well, the visitor has the option of taking another mikuji (which usually costs less -- this box says, "first fortune 200 yen," a little under $2).