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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 - Monks walking  up  stairs
    Hasedera - Monks walking up stairs

    Hasedera is an active training ground for Shingon Buddhist priests, who can be seen moving about the complex. Their prayers can often be heard resounding within many of the temple buildings, in which groups will chant in a hauntingly beautiful traditional manner.

  • 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 - Interior of Kobo Daishi Hall
    Hasedera - Interior of Kobo Daishi Hall

    This is the chandelier-like canopy above the statue of Kobo Daishi, in which are carved images of various Buddhas.

  • Thumbnail for Random view along Okunoin path
  • Thumbnail for Views enroute to Okunoin
    Views enroute to Okunoin

    One of many old stone images in the forest.

  • 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 Kashima Miya - Main hall and left "wing" at Kashima Shrine
    Kashima Miya - Main hall and left "wing" at Kashima Shrine

    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.

  • Thumbnail for Hasedera - Top of the stairs
    Hasedera - Top of the stairs

    Upon almost reaching the end of the covered stairways, there is a small landing where one is greeted by a small red Shinto shrine dedicated to a local deity.

  • 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 Ikuta Jinja - Inner sanctum
    Ikuta Jinja - Inner sanctum

    This is the view from the place where most visitors stop to pray. One pulls the rope visible to the right and bows.

  • Thumbnail for Kashima Miya - Side view of subsidiary shrine
  • Thumbnail for Jizo statue in forest
    Jizo statue in forest

    One of thousands of statues of Jizo, the merciful deity who is commonly entreated to assist children who have died young, especially even prior to birth. These statues are often dressed in caps and aprons. This clothing is sometimes placed there by a bereaved mother, or sometimes by any warm-hearted person who happens to be fond of keeping little Jizo neatly dressed.

  • Thumbnail for Stairs and trees
    Stairs and trees

    Another view enroute to Okunoin.

  • Thumbnail for Classical grave stone
    Classical grave stone

    This shape is common to the Shingon school of Japanese Buddhism and reflects its doctrines. The five geometric shapes of this stupa-like grave stone signify the five elements shared by all living things (from bottom to top, cube, sphere, pyramid, hemisphere, drop): earth, water, fire, air and space. Each of these elements has its own "seed" syllable or mantra, that is carved into the stone here in its Sanskrit form.

  • Thumbnail for Grave marker of mother
    Grave marker of mother

    Some of the grave stones surrounding Okunoin seem to depict either actual people or at least their idealized forms as ordinary social beings. Here we see a mother with children.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Main gate of Ikuta Jinja from within
    Ikuta Jinja - Main gate of Ikuta Jinja from within

    This photo was taken from the right of the main hall.

  • Thumbnail for Minatogawa Jinja - Torii within compound
    Minatogawa Jinja - Torii within compound

    This white torii stands on the main pathway of the shrine, about halfway between the main gate and the main shrine hall

  • 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 Shrine stairs with torii
    Shrine stairs with torii

    These stairs lead from the main street to a small shrine in the forest behind the houses visible to the right.

  • Thumbnail for Random shrine and statue along Okunoin path
  • Thumbnail for View along path to Okunoin
  • Thumbnail for Prayer strips in Tamagawa
    Prayer strips in Tamagawa

    From the bridge over the Tamagawa stream that leads to Kobo Daishi's mausoleum one can see these wooden strips suspended above the stream so that the current washes across the bottom of the strips. On each strip is written the name of someone deceased, and the pure waters of this stream are said to purify their spirits wherever they may be in their afterlife journey.

  • 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.