Kannon image in main hall.
To the right of the main hall stands this large structure on which visitors hang an "ema," or a small wooden plaque with a string on which they have written a wish. The ema are purchased at the shrine for around 500 yen (four dollars), and as the other photos show they come in different styles. It is believed that placing one's wish in close proximity to the kami may enhance the chances of fulfillment.
Just inside the first torii gate, which here is gray concrete, is this vermillion second torii. The cars parked here are likely affiliated with the shrine. If the open areas of the shrine were available for parking they would always be full in this crowded city.
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.
Here hang the b&quoema," or tablets upon which faithful write personal wishes that they want the deity of the shrine to assist in fulfilling. These hang just in front of the shrine, which is behind and to the right of the photographer here.
This ema reads, in the center, "May I find someone I really like and keep a good relationship for a long time." To the right is also written," May I find a man."
Unfortunately I do not have a photo of the plaque describing the reasons for placing this rope circle here!
Between the large entrance gate and the main shrine hall is a large circle made of rope.
This ema reads, "May my family be happy and live joyously and brightly. May we all be happy."
Just behind the main plaza is this Shinto shrine dedicated to the local deity.
Near a counter that sells protective amulets (o-mamori), this chart details the various ages at which men and women are thought most susceptible to misfortune in their lives. Some explanations of the reasoning behind the system rely on the pronunciation of the digits of the age: 4 (shi) and 2 (ni) sounds "shini" or death for a forty-two year old male and so deserves special care; 3 (san) 3 (san) can be read as "multiple disasters," so that a woman of thirty-three had better watch out. Other explanations suggest a more natural understanding in Japanese culture of specific periods in life when many men or women might traditionally be under a lot of biological or social stress. For one not well-versed in the traditional system, the chart is a reminder of when it might be a good time to stock up on protective charms from the shrine or, for extra caution, even to commission a shrine priest to perform a purification ritual.
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.
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.
The side gate is not nearly as elaborate as the main gate. A visitor who felt a need to make a sincere petition would likely enter through the larger main gate.
This is just one of hundreds of such massive entrance gates to a temple in the town of Koyasan.
This is the same structure as in cocrejpn0163.
One of many old stone images in the forest.
The actual small shrine where Kobo Daishi's body was placed is behind the large mausoleum. These visitors stand between the mausoleum and the shrine while facing the shrine, which is to the right in this photo. The man in the white jacket is the guide, who tells them about the history of the shrine and instructs them how to pray, which they all subsequently do. In front of the shrine, there are always many fresh flowers donated by the faithful.
The explanation of this uncommon structure is not legible. All that I know is that this rope is made of miscanthus reed, which is common for tradtional thatching in Japan, and that a banner at the main gate of the shrine announces that this "miscanthus circle" is part of a festival.
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.
This Shinto-style shrine stands in the heart of the Garan complex and reflects the importance of the traditions of worship dedicated to the "local" deity of the mountain. It appears that Kukai revered these "kami" deeply and this reverence continues via regular rituals today.