A little help

Five-Storied PagodaIf you look closely at the four corners of the five-storied pagoda, you can see four figures helping to hold up the weight of the roof of the first floor. It was difficult to take clear photos, be ready with a good zoom setting to get better shots than this! I’m missing one figure, his photograph just didn’t turn out quite right…



On the Eaves of Kon-do

Atop Kon-do Atop Kon-do

When facing Kon-do, if you look to the left and right corners of the roof, you will see these two figures. It is said that these figures depict Kosekiko (黄石公), the Yellow Stone Elder, riding on top of an ancient tortoise. In Japanese lore, the tortoise is believed to live for up to 10,000 years. These figures were added to the roof of Kon-do some time after it was moved to Ninna-ji and express the wish that Kon-do may stand for thousands of years just as the tortoise and Kosekiko have lived for thousands of years. You can see that the two tortoises have also taken on the role of agyō and ungyō, guardians with one mouth open for the sound “ah” and one closed making the sound “un.”

Name Stickers at the Watered Fudo-myo’o

Name Sickers at the Watered Fudo-myo'oThese stickers are called “senja-fuda” in Japanese, the kanji characters in the word literally mean “thousand shrine tag” (千社札). Worshippers visiting temples would bring senja-fuda with their names printed on them and would paste them to structures on the temple grounds after finishing their prayers as a way of commemorating their visit. This is a tradition that has existed for quite some time, and you can make your own senja-fuda at small printing machines at arcades and other places around Kyoto (and other places in Japan, too!). Some stationery stores also sell pre-made stickers of common names. It would be largely considered inappropriate to paste stickers on historical and cultural properties now, so I don’t suggest you go sticking your personalized senja-fuda on anything without asking first. I don’t know what I would use them for, but now that I know more about the history of senja-fuda I’m tempted to go find a machine to make some on…

Sutra Hall

The Sutra Hall
The Sutra Hall was completed in the mid 17th century. With double doors flanked by flower shaped windows, the Sutra Hall is a structure unified by Zen architectural elements. Inside, six Buddhist images including Sakyamuni, Manjusri, and Samantabhadra are enshrined. The inner walls are adorned with images of the eight great Bodhisattvas and the sixteen Arhats.

Inside, there is an octagonal rotating sutra shelf with 96 drawers on each side, equalling a total amount of 768 drawers in all. The drawers are filled with Buddhist scriptures.

Click the image below for a close up of the “sacred jewel” decoration that sits on roof of the Sutra Hall. Atop the Sutra Hall

Lantern Near Kon-do

Base of Lantern near Kon-do

 This is the base of the large metal lantern at the top of the stairs that lead to Kon-do. I noticed the little tortoises around the base for the first time! The tortoise is said to live up to 10,000 years in Japanese lore, it is a very auspicious symbol.

When you visit Ninna-ji you will likely see many school children in their uniforms around. Ninna-ji is a common destination for students on school trips from all across the country. Sometimes they have English assignments they need help with, but most of the time they just need help taking a few group photographs. Lantern near Kon-do

Pine Tree in Goten

CIMG0409Recently there have been crews coming to the temple to prune the pine trees, they have already finished with the one above. The larger vertical tree and the low branches are all one tree!

Pine Tree

This is the view from underneath, the low branches are all supported on little crutches. You can see this tree for yourself outside of Goten, come take a look!