Friday, November 30, 2007

Kanmanji Temple

I'm not sure what this little building was. It's not the temple itself.

Back when I went down to Kisakata to watch karate, I decided to stop by a temple that appeared on the tour map people were handing out at the train station.

I don't know much about the history of Kanmanji temple. There was a big sign near the entrance with a lengthy explanation, but it was filled with unknown kanji, and I didn't want to spend an hour translating it with my dictionary. Thus, unfortunately, I can't tell you who this guy is here:

I was able to look up some of the temple's past in its Wikipedia entry, which places the its origin over a thousand years ago, though I doubt any of the surviving buildings are that old. The gate, for example, is supposed to be 300-something years old:

There's no English entry for Kanmanji on Wikipedia, but if you want to have some fun, you can view the Japanese page translated by Google, which interprets Kanmanji as "perfused swastika." Disclaimer: Google translator doesn't work well with Japanese grammar or kanji.

Detail of some of the carvings on the gate.

This is a statue of Matsuo Basho, the famous traveling poet, most well-known for his collections of haikus. Kisakata was one of the northern-most points in his journey before he turned back southward.

There was a large graveyard sectioned off from the rest of the temple, but there were also some graves just in the entrance area.

People left flowers and cans of tea near the graves. Perhaps they got the tea from the vending machines at the entrance from the main road (vending machines are EVERYWHERE!)

These are all statues of the same guy: Jizo, the guardian of the spirits of children who die before their parents (including the spirits of children who die before birth). It is said that a child who dies before their parents is doomed to spend an eternity piling stones along a mythical river bank as penance for making their parents suffer. The parents pray to Jizo asking him to intervene, and he hides the children under his cloak, speaking mantras to them and leading them to the afterlife.

Correspondingly, the statues of Jizo often have babyish faces and are dressed in bibs or children's clothes.

Sorry. I don't know who this is.

For some reason, there was a whole clowder of cats in residence on the temple grounds. Here they are crowding around some food set out by one of the care-takers.

A large building, not the main temple

The main temple building. I saw a separate group of visitors approach the entrance and each, in turn, deposited some money and struck the hanging bell.

I'm sorry I haven't been posting all that often. Everything is going good and Minami High School is busy as ever. It's definitely been getting colder here and we've already had a good amount of snowfall. I'll try to update more often. Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!


Sean said...

Nice pitures! I especially enjoy all the interesting comments explaining some of the different things.

Happy upcoming Birthday! Do you have any plans?

jeffisdancing said...

I just worked on my birthday and met with a Japanese tutor. After he found out it was my birthday he told me he'd get a slice of cake for me this week.

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