Monday, September 3, 2012

Hase-dera Temple

After we visited the Great Buddha, we decided to try to hit one more temple or shrine before heading back home. When we left home that morning, we had some nice cloud-cover. But since getting out into town, the sun had popped out and it was getting HOT - especially for two small children. Not too far from the Great Buddha - and back in the same direction as our train home - was Hase Temple.

"Housed in the Kannondo (Kannon Hall), the gilded wood statue of Kannon is more than 9m (30 feet) high and is the tallest wooden image in Japan. It has 11 heads and each face has a different expression, representing Kannon's compassion for all kinds of human suffering. The Kannondo also contains the Treasure House, which has artifacts from the Kamakura, Heian, Muromachi, and Edo periods.

Another statue housed at the Hasedera is of Amida, a Buddha who promised rebirth in the Pure Land to all who chant his name in devotion. Housed in the Amidado (Amida Hall) beside the Kannondo, it was commissioned by Yoritomo Minamoto (1147-99) on his 42nd birthday, which is considered an unlucky year for men.

Along the steps to the Kannondo are statues of a much less monumental size but perhaps greater visual impact. All around are rows of small statues of Jizo,the guardian deity of children. Historically, parents came to Hasedera to set up these statues in hopes the deity would protect and watch over their children.Today, though, the Jizo statues represent the souls of miscarried, stillborn or aborted children. Some of the statues are dressed in bibs, hand-knitted caps and sweaters. More than 50,000 Jizo statues have been offered here since the war, but the thousand or so currently dipslayed will remain only a year before being burned or buried to make way for others. Jizo statues can be purchased on the temple grounds.

The temple grounds include an attractive garden and pond, with bamboo water fountain and stone lanterns. Near the pond is the Bentendo, a small hall that contains a figure of Benten (or Benzaiten), a Shinto goddess of feminine beauty and wealth.

Next to the Bentendo is the Bentenkutsu, a small cave with candle-lit sculptures of Benten and other minor gods.
The terrace next to the temple's main buildings provides an excellent view over Kamakura and out to sea. Nearby, a small restaurant offers Japanese sweets like mitarashi dango (rice flower dumplings in a sticky sauce made of sugar and soy) as well as small meals and beverages."

Specific Information:
  • 0800-1730 (only 1700 during the winter)
  • Open every day
  • 300 yen (young children are free; older children may be 100Y)

This temple was more... meaningful? to me than the other few I've been to thus far. I think it was because of the focus on children who were miscarried or died shortly after birth. There were hundreds of little statues representing all of the children. How could you not be moved a bit?

This temple also had the most beautiful gardens we've been to yet. My girls enjoyed the coy fish in the various ponds, though they were starting to wane a bit from the heat. Fortunately, at the top of the hill, near the temple was a cooling station with shade and a cool mist raining down on our heads. There was also a great view of the ocean. 

The entrance to the Temple.

Goddess of Mercy

I love these little guys! Might have to bring one or two back to the States with us....

For all the babies.

The main Temple.

"Next to the Daikokudo Hall stands the scripture house. All scriptures covering Mahayana Buddhism called Issaikyo, or Tripitaka in Skt., are kept in the revolving repository. Issaikyo (also called Daizokyo) has 100 volumes with 900 pages each, all in Chinese. (Recently, Buddhist professor and his group in Japan have completed translation of all the scriptures into English. It took them 17 years to finish up.) If you turn the repository around, so reads the explanation, you would be given the same virtue as you would get by reading all of the Issaikyo. Many visitors are turning it probably just for fun." -  Asahi Net

The girls were looking for Pandas.

Okay. I was thinking we needed to get some small ones, but maybe I should get one of these statues that is big enough to hug....

This was by far the best temple we've been to yet. The gardens are amazing, there is a lot to see, and it is a close walk to the train station. DO NOT MISS this place. It is probably even more fabulous in the fall when the weather cools down a bit.

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