A Walk Around Kyushu
Day 75, Thursday March 27th, 2014
Chikuzenmaebaru to Imajuku, Part 1
It's just beginning to get light as I get off the train at Maebaru and start to look for the first pilgrimage temple of the day which is nearby. It's going to be a long day with a lot of ground to cover and lots of places to visit, but I am helped by the fact that I am basing myself in Hakata for the next few days so I don't need to carry a full pack with me.
I find the temple, Ryozenji, number 107 of the pilgrimage, on a small rise surrounded by a housing estate. Two new Nio statues made of stone flank the driveway. They are a standard design, and like many other types of statues nowadays, are exactly the same all over the country.
The national homogeneity continues to be created out of historical diversity. Ryozenji is a small unimposing wooden temple with many cherry trees in full bloom. There are also quite a few Fudo Myo-o statues. The large number of Fudo statues encountered on this pilgrimage has been one of the highlights for me.
Now I have to head inland and I have been kind of not looking forward to it as the next temple is a mountain temple and I dread the climb. I head along the southern edge of a wide valley filled with rice paddies. On my way back I will zig-zag through the middle of the valley as there are a bunch of shrines and a museum to visit. Once I reach the temple, Sennyo-ji, number 28, I am pleasantly surprised that it is actually not that high up the mountain. I am also surprised that there is an entrance fee. As far as I can remember this is the first temple on this pilgrimage that I have had to pay to get into. It turns out to be worth it.
There is plenty of statuary around the grounds, including several of Fudo Myo-o. Behind the cluster of main buildings is a nice garden with pond and the sun comes out and illuminates it nicely for me. From this first set of buildings a covered staircase heads up the hill to the main hall. On the hillside among the trees are statues of the Buddhas disciples, rakan. I am guessing that there is the full complement of 500 here, every single one different.
As I enter the darkened main hall a priest is giving a ceremony for a woman. After they finish he takes her back and shows her the temples main statue. When they return he motions me to sit down and then he proceeds into a chant. For whatever reason, the ceremony given me is only about half the length of the one he had previously given. The statue is really quite impressive, standing almost 5 meters tall and about 700 years old.
It is a Senjyu Kannon, a Thousand Armed Kannon, but whereas most senjyu kannon statues really only have 48 arms, this one really does have a full one thousand. From the main hall the covered stairway climbs yet again to another building. This is dedicated to the founder of the temple who, surprisingly, was an Indian monk.
The interior is very bright and grand and the walls are covered in gold leaf upon which are painted many pictures of deities and boddhisatvas. Buddhism has a large influence from Hinduism, and it is quite obvious from these painting that seem more Hindu than usual. All very colorful and unusual. It's time to get on so I descend the stairs and leave the temple and head back down hill. Once I reach the flat valley bottom below the clouds have mostly dispersed.
A Walk Around Kyushu Day 74
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