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
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.
The hilly complex at Hasedera encompasses many interesting buildings, each with a unique design that features particular combinations of stone, wood, tile, and painted mud walls, as well as careful landscaping.
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.
All Buddhist temples in Japan have a bell that is usually covered by an elaborate roof. The bell is rung by a large log suspended by chains, and it resonates with a deep gong-like sound for many seconds.
At this stone basin worshippers will rinse both hand and mouth as a symbolic act of purification before proceeding into the shrine center.
Statue of Fudo Myo-o within sub-temple.
This ema reads, "May Bun-chan's leg [or foot] heal quickly and may he graduate without any difficulty." Imprinted on the ema to the left is a place for the name and address of the petitioner, which is given in full. The petitioner's name is female; presumably this is a mother praying for her son.
The path from Ichinohashi to Okunoin winds through massive trees, like the one on the left, and is lit by stone lanterns.
Just outside the main entrance gate is a makeshift tree (constructed because the natural tree was full!) of long, thin hanging wooden dowels, on which many white paper fortune strips (mikuji) are folded.
The same Jizo as in cocrejpn0159.
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.
This ema reads, " School: I pray that I may easily get into school." From a young age, Japanese children take what are often very competitive tests to enter both public and private schools. In the month of May, petitioners will post such ema around exam time, whether they seek to enter a junior high, high school or college.
A woman unrolls a scroll painting of the bodhisattva of compassion Kannon purchased at the temple. She will eventually fill the spaces surrounding the image of Kannon (white head visible just below large wood block) with inscriptions by temple priests from various temples she intends to visit in the future.
This sign instructs those (probably of younger generations) who need a reminder how to worship (from right to left): "First you bow twice with back bent to ninety degrees and head lowered. Then you clap your hands twice at chest level. Then bow one last time."
This ema, signed by a man and a woman with different last names, says, "May the two of us get along well this year." Appended to the left is also a note saying, "Please also watch over littleTaro!!"
A variety of quality items here, many related to the martial character of much of Kusunoki's life, are displayed for interested buyers (all reproductions).
The petitioner asks specifically for success in his applications to six universities, the first two spelled out nearly in full and the last four in extreme shorthand (either for lack of space or as an indication of lessened importance), that is nonetheless recognizable for any one who lives in the greater Kansai (Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto) area. The ema includes the date and the petitioner's name and address.
Jizo comes in many forms. This newer statue has him seated in a traditional meditation posture. He holds the children, who are the timeless objects of his vast mercy. The visual contrast here between the clean stone of the new Jizo image and the moss-covered worn stone lantern is one of the charms of this Okunoin trail. Centuries of devotion merge into one another. Our great grandchildren will see this Jizo with its own moss.
The marker to the right announces that this is the grave of the Toyotomi family (and that it is an historical landmark). The family refers to the descendants of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the great general who unified Japan after a long civil war just prior to the lengthy peace of the stable Tokugawa (or Edo) Period around 1600.
After clapping her hands, ringing the bell and bowing up closer to the hall, in the traditional manner, this young woman backed up several steps and stood with her head bowed for many minutes while facing the shrine.
The black plaque on the large white stone says "Termites." In smaller letters below it says," .... in peace" (probably something like "rest in peace," but the verb is illegible). The pillar to the right says the site was dedicated by a company in Japan that eliminates termites.