Friday, February 16, 2018

Nagoya in 24 hours Part 5 - The Osu Kannon Temple and Kobo Daishi


Having accomplished one shrine visit, I left Atsuta Jingu to head for Osu Kannon, a local temple belonging to the Shingon sect of Buddhism. 
This is the sect that Kobo Daishi, my favourite Buddhist saint founded in the 9th century. 
I had read that he was said to have carved the temple's main statue of the goddess of mercy,  
Kannon and I was not about to miss a chance to see it.  It seemed that on this trip, I kept "running into" Kobo Daishi.  Perhaps I was not travelling solo at all. 

Since I had to be in Tokyo by mid afternoon, the fastest way and most convenient way to get from southern Nagoya to Osu in the eastern part of the city,  was by cab.  Vowing to make budget slashes elsewhere on the trip,   I hopped  into a waiting cab and gave the driver my (distant) destination.

The taxi driver took me right to the front of the temple, at the bright orange Deva Gate.  
Tokugawa Ieyasu himself chose this site for the temple,  moving it here in the 17th century from its original location.   The earliest temple buildings were destroyed by floods and wars so the current buildings that you see were reconstructed in the 1900s.  

Two fierce, warrior  looking statues flank each side of the gate.  These are the Deva Kings -- 
tasked by Buddha as guardians of the earth -- protecting us all from evil and malevolent spirits.  
It's comforting to see them still on the job.                   

There are a number of buildings in the temple grounds -- this is the Main Hall, the Daihiden where you can see the the goddess of mercy Kannon on the altar.  Below the Daihiden is the
Shinpukuji Bunko Library where over 15,000 ancient Japanese and Chinese texts are kept, 
some of them are National Treasures. 

I climbed the stone staircase of the Daihiden to view the statue of Kannon.   Before entering the hall, I lit some incense sticks from the fire in a large brass urn as an offering to the goddess of mercy.

Osu Kannon is very popular in Nagoya. One of the reasons may be the famous wooden statue of Kannon said to have been carved by Kobo Daishi himself.
This morning, worshippers were praying at the altar when I arrived.  Unfortunately, photos were 
not allowed inside the hall. 
The statue of the goddess of mercy is placed in the middle of an ornate altar and is not very big.  
It is a beautiful depiction of Kannon showing her serene and kind face.  
The statue stands on a lotus flower and is flanked by more giant gold lotus blooms.   
The lotus is a symbol of purity in Buddhism. 
Kobo Daishi says that even in muddy waters, a lovely flower like the lotus can flourish.  
Thus, he exhorts us to strive to be virtuous even while surrounded by the dross of daily life. 

After praying to Kannon and  Kobo Daishi, I headed down to the temple office where I was able to get my goshuincho inscribed with the temple's seal. It is a printed keepsake of finding Kobo Daishi, seemingly everywhere,  on this trip to Nagoya


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