Friday, February 12, 2010

Taiyuji Temple

As I wrote in the previous post, on 3rd January after visiting Shitennoji Temple, hubby and I visited Taiyuji Temple located in the middle of downtown Umeda in Osaka prefecture. From Shitennoji-mae-Yuhigaoka railway station, we took Osaka city subway Tanimachi line train to reach Higashi Umeda railway station. Taiyuji Temple is a five minute walk from this station.

Taiyuji Temple belongs to Koyasan Shingon shu sect of Buddhism and was founded in 821 by Kobodaishi. The principal image of the temple is a thousand-armed statue of goddess kannon named Honzon senju kanzeon bosatsu who is known to alleviate the suffering of all people. This statue was the nenjibutsu of Emperor Saga (786-842 A.D.) who later presented it to the temple. A nenjibutsu is a Buddhist statue which is kept at close proximity for personal daily worship. Later, son of Emperor Saga, Minamoto no Toru (822-895 A.D.; also known as poet Kawara no Sadaijin), had a full set of temple buildings constructed in the extensive precincts of the temple. The temple flourished for several centuries. However the temple was in favor of Toyotomi clan, so it was burned down in the battle between Edo Tokugawa Shogunate and Toyotomi clan in the summer war of Osaka of 1615. During the Genroku era (1688-1703) of Edo period, about 25 structures of the temple precincts including Hondou and Nandaimon were reconstructed. Unfortunately, the temple buildings were again razed in the massive air raid on Osaka during World War II in 1945. After the war, temple buildings were reconstructed once again. About 20 structures and buildings like Hondou, Ichigandou, Taishidou, etc were reconstructed as seen today. The statue of goddess kannon (principal image) and a stone statue of the deity Fudoumyouou escaped damage during many wars and fires, and are still enshrined in the temple premises.

Taiyuji Temple is the historic place where the democratic movement of Japan began. In 1878, Itagaki Taisuke and other important political figures from all over Japan gathered in Osaka and started Freedom and People's Rights Movement, which expanded to entire Japan. They formed a political party called Aikokusha (Society of patriots), which is considered to be the predecessor of Liberal Party (Meiji Period) that Itagaki founded in 1881. In March 1880, the fourth convention of Aikokusha Party was held at this temple precinct and an alliance was formed to petition the Meiji government to establish a National Diet and constitution. Again in October 1884, the final convention of Liberal Party (Meiji Period) was held at this temple.

After walking for about five minutes from Higsahi Umeda station, we reached Nishimon Gate (West Gate) of Taiyuji Temple. There were two beautiful inscribed stone slabs on either side of the gate. We walked around the temple premises and saw an information notice board giving a map and position of various buildings in the precincts, which was very useful for us.
Nishimon Gate

Hubby standing next to the information board of Taiyuji Temple

First we visited Hondou main hall of the temple. It was reconstructed in 1960. Exquisite carvings of a dragon and a wooden framed temple sign plaque (hengaku) beautify the top front of the main hall. The principal image of the temple, a thousand-armed statue named Honzon senju kanzeon bosatsu, is enshrined in this hall. This statue was the nenjibutsu of Emperor Saga during the Heian period. Two additional (wakibutsu) Buddha statues called Jizou bosatsu and Bishamonten are placed on either side of the main statue.
Hondou main hall and other temple buildings

Hondou main hall and an incense cauldron

Carvings of a dragon and a wooden framed hengaku plaque at the top front of the main hall

Altar at Hondou main hall

Statue of Honzon senju kanzeon bosatsu at the main hall

Hondou west side view

Next, we visited a pagoda called Houtou that is located adjacent to Hondou main hall. Houtou was reconstructed in 1986. The architecture and design of the pagoda is fascinating. A statue of Dainichi Nyorai is enshrined inside Houtou. Dainichi Nyorai is considered to be cosmic supreme deity of esoteric sect of Shingon Buddhism in Japan.
Houtou pagoda

Beautiful architecture of the pagoda

A hall named Ichigandou is located in the first floor of Houtou pagoda. Ichigandou was reconstructed in 1954. The hall has a huge standing stone statue of deity Honzon Fudoumyouou, who is considered to be a personification of Dainichi Nyorai. The deity at this temple is also known as Ichiganfudou. Fudoumyouou converts anger into salvation, is the destroyer of delusion, and is immovable in faith and carnal temptations. It has a furious glaring face as it seeks to frighten people into accepting the teachings of Dainichi Buddha. Fudoumyouou statue is flanked by two statues of attendants (wakibutsu) called Kongara douji and Seitaka douji. People pray to Fudoumyouou for achieving success, fulfillment, accomplishment of goals, gain monetary fortune, and for all wishes to come true. A fire ritual called goma (or homa) is performed to invoke deity Fudoumyouou for his blessings, burning away passions, and for seeking wisdom. Every year on May 28th, goma service named saitohoma is held at this temple. The original statue of Fudoumyouou escaped damage during many wars and fires through the centuries, and is enshrined in an inner sanctuary called Okunoin in front of Ichigandou hall. I prayed in front of the statues of Fudoumyouou in Ichigandou hall as well as Okunoin for peace and success of my family. I also lit candles and incense sticks in the hall. It was rather dark inside Ichigandou but there was a calm, quite, and holy atmosphere.
Inside Ichigandou hall

Okunoin sanctuary in front of Ichigandou hall

Me lighting a candle inside Ichigandou hall

Me lighting incense sticks inside Ichigandou hall

After offering our prayers, we went to omikuji fortune stall at Gokushou building located right in front of Ichigandou hall. I was rather eager to know hubby’s fortune. So after paying a small sum to draw the fortune, hubby shook a cylindrical box containing bamboo sticks with numbers until the tip of a stick with a number poked its way through the hole at the top of the box. A shrine staff looked at the number and then gave him a strip of paper corresponding to the number on the stick. The strip of paper showed ‘normal luck and fortune’. Later hubby tied this strip of paper to string on a frame set up at the temple ground next to Gokushou building.
Hubby taking out a numbered bamboo stick from a cylindrical box while trying omikuji

Hubby reading omikuji fortune written on a strip of paper

Hubby tying his strip of paper to a string on a frame

To the east of Hondou main hall just adjacent to Gokushou building, a statue of Yakuyoke Kobodaishi is located. Kobodaishi was a monk, scholar, poet, artist, and founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism. He founded Taiyuji Temple in 821, and is revered as the most holy of Buddhist priests to eradicate various evils.
Statue of Yakuyoke Kobodaishi

To the east of Hondou main hall just adjacent to the statue of Kobodaishi, eight hand prayer wheels called Mani wheels (pronounced as manisha or manikuruma in Japanese) stand in a row. A prayer wheel is a hollow cylindrical wheel on a spindle with sutra written on it. Mani wheels of this temple are made of metal and have been gifted by Nepal as a symbol of friendship between the two countries. A message from Nepal explaining about Mani wheel is framed on a board and hangs on a stand under the prayer wheels. Spinning the prayer wheel is supposed to have the same meritorious effect as orally chanting the prayers. Hubby took a photo of me standing next to the prayer wheels as he was very amused to see ‘Manisha standing next to manisha’.
Manisha standing next to manisha

A framed message from Nepal explaining about Mani wheel

Later we went to the area of the temple near Nishimon Gate. In this area, there is a small shrine named Hakuryudaijin having a bright vermilion colored Torii gate. The god of this shrine is believed to be a god of matchmaking and marriage. Next to this shrine is a stone statue of Buddha named Bokefuji kannon who is believed to provide protection against senile dementia. With an increasing number of elderly people in Japan, this kannon is becoming more and more popular nowadays. Adjacent to this Buddha statue is a memorial service tower for soldiers who died in World War II. In this area of the temple, there is another tower named Taiyuji eitai kuyoutou for eternal peace and repose of departed souls.
Temple premises near Nishimon Gate

Hakuryudaijin shrine

Statue of Bokefuji Kannon

Memorial service tower for soldiers who died in World War II

Taiyuji eitai kuyoutou tower

To the left of Nishimon Gate, in the north-west corner of the temple precincts, there is tomb of Yododono called Yododono no haka. Yododono was a prominently placed figure in late Sengoku period, and was the most favored concubine of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. She committed suicide when Osaka Castle was burned down in the summer war of Osaka of 1615. Initially, she was buried in a small shrine named Benten Hokora (also called Bentenjima) in the grounds outside Osaka Castle. This shrine was also known as Yodohime jinja. In 1877, during the construction of a military parade ground complex named joutou-renpeijou in the castle grounds (present day Osaka Castle Park) by Meiji army, the grave of Yododono was moved to the present location in Taiyuji Temple. The tomb was initially a nine-ringed stone tower. However in a fire during World War II, the tomb suffered damage and three rings of the stone tower were lost. Our main reason to visit Taiyuji Temple was to see the tomb of Yododono. Hubby and I prayed in front of the tomb.
Yododono no haka

Information about the tomb of Yododono

Me praying in front of the tomb of Yododono

Finally, we visited the bell tower located on the left side of Nishimon Gate inside the temple precincts. The belfry (Shoro) was reconstructed in 1973. However, the bell (Bonsho) is much older and was built in 1675. The belfry looked beautiful. The bell has an inscription written by mid-Edo period Priest Kousou Jougon Wajou. Since we visited the temple during the New Year season, we were allowed to ring the bell. Hubby rang the temple bell very enthusiastically, and I compiled a video of it.

Belfry Shoro

Bonsho bell

Video of hubby ringing the temple bell (please increase the sound volume to maximum)

After seeing the bell tower, we left the temple premises and walked back to Higsahi Umeda railway station. Hubby saw the map of the area in a Japanese guidebook and realized that there was a famous local shrine named Tsuyunoten Jinja in the neighborhood, and so we visited this shrine. In the evening, we went to see a Japanese comedy show performance at Namba Grand Kagetsu Theater in Yoshimoto Kogyo Building located in Namba. I will write about these in the next post.


littleWriter (Anunoy) said...

Hi Manisha,
how r u?...
it was worth spending some time in ur bloG.... felt like myself a traveller 2 Taiyuji temple... liked ur trip photos as well... hav a nice time... kp blogging n njoy ur life...

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Anunoy for your nice comment. Really feels good to know that you enjoyed reading the post.

Your blog is also interesting.