Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Camwhoring Adventure In Hasedera Temple

~ a continuation from the first part ~
Being one of the places where the influence of Buddhism is much stronger than the native religion of Shinto, it made our stop at Kamakura filled with visits to quite a number of Buddhist temples and shrines. Our next stop at Kamakura was Hasedera Temple, located in the proximity to the train station where we were greeted with an interesting walkway across the railway upon our arrival there.
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Main gate and the red lantern; but visitors enter the temple through a public entrance beside this gate.
According to legend, in 721 A.D. the pious monk Tokudo Shonin discovered a large camphor tree in the mountain forests near the village of Hase in the Nara region. He realised the trunk of the tree was so large that it provided enough material for carving two statues of the eleven-headed Kannon. The statue he commissioned to be carved from the lower part of the trunk was enshrined in Hasedera Temple near Nara; the statue from the upper half, in which is the larger of the two, was thrown into the sea near present-day Osaka with a prayer that it would reappear to save the people. Fifteen years later in 736 A.D. on the night of June 18, it washed ashore at Nagai Beach on the Miura Peninsula not far from Kamakura, sending out rays of light as it did. The statue was then brought to Kamakura and a temple was constructed to honour it.
Since time immemorial, Hasedera Temple has been known as the 4th station among the 33 holy places in the Kanto area.
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The main building that houses the statue of Hase Kannon.
The magnificent statue of Hase Kannon is housed here for all to see and worship. It is 9.18 meters tall and has eleven heads in addition to its main one: three in front, three to the left and three to the right, plus one at the top and another on back. Each face has different expression, signifying that the deity listens to the wishes of all types of people. Hase Kannon is unique in that it holds a staff made of tin in its right hand and a vase of lotus flowers in its left. Gold leaf was applied to the statue in 1342 at the request of Ashikaga Takauji and in 1392, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu had the halo added.
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Hase Kannon inside Kannon-do Hall.
Although Kannon is usually described in English as "the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy", strictly speaking, it is neither masculine nor feminine. Kannon is Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (a Bodhisattva is a future Buddha), destined for enlightenment who has vowed to save all sentiment beings and represents compassion, mercy and love.
Next to Kannon-do Hall is a building where a golden seated statue of Yakuyoke (Protector from Evil Spirits) Amida Buddha, one of Kamakura's six principal statues of Amida, is enshrined. In 1194, Minamoto Yoritomo, the first shogun of Japan commissioned this statue that measures 2.8 meters in height, excluding its large halo.
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Yakuyoke Amida Buddha
Halfway down the steps to the lower level is a small building, in which Fukuju Jizo, or "Happy" Jizo is enshrined.
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Surrounding the Hall are thousands of little Jizo stone statues standing in long rows, some wearing bibs or knitted caps and festooned with cute charms. The statues are there to comfort the souls of unborn children. Jizo-Bosatsu is a Bodhisattva possessing.
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I was so tempted to take one of these back home.
On the far side of the upper level is a platform overlooking Yuigahama/Zaimokuza Beach and Sagami Bay with Zushi Marina and the Miura Peninsula in the distance. There are picnics tables for the comfort of visitors there. It was early spring when we were there and the weather was still relatively cold although we saw the blue sky and the sun was shining brightly that day. We took a time-out at the platform while camwhoring a little bit.
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Wearing sunnies in spring? This guys is damn weird.
This temple centres on a small Japanese gardens decorated with a variety of flowers around its surrounding. There were cherry blossom and peach blossoms among others, blooming at its peak time, which certainly made it a beautiful sight while we were spending our time there.
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In the middle of the gardens, there is a pond called Hojo-ike pond that has a lot of huge Japanese carps.
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We continued our walk around and decided to have another rest camwhoring session after we saw a red Japanese traditional umbrella connected onto a wooden chair. My reckoning tells me that that bence, which has bushes of bamboos in the background is provided for the elderly to take some rest. Instead, it was this two dude who ended up on the bench.
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Mingrong will never miss out on posing with his "peace" sign.
Y'know what? Suddenly, I realised that I am posting up so many pictures of myself in this entry, although I have said that I will lessen on it this time around. Before we went into any hall of statues again, we tracked up a slope and at the highest point (which was not high at all), this is what we saw.
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On the way down, there were rows of carved stone statues like the one we saw earlier. However, the sizes of these statues were much bigger.
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Anyway, across that Japanese garden is housed an image of Daikokuten. It is a replice of the original one in the Homotsu-kan Museum which was carved in 1412, making it the oldest image of its type in Kanagawa prefecture. Daikokuten is one of the Seven Japanese Gods of Good Fortune, He is considered the god of wealth (or more specifically the harvest), or of the household, particularly the kitchen. Recognised by his wide face and beaming smile, he is often portrayed holding a golden mallet and standing or sitting on bales of rice.
As what is written on the small board below the statue, it was stated there, asking visitors to feel free and touch it to gain good fortunes. Knowing that, I spent one-long hour sitting there and continued touching that statue non-stop, because I am kiasu and I wanted to get all the good fortunes from this statue took a few touches on it too. However this time, I did not do something silly on the statue like what I did last summer.
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Come, come and raba me lah!
I got out from that little building and came across a pair of huge concrete foot-steps just opposite of it. I straight away camwhored with it, without even knowing a single thing about its significance. Sounds like a person in great desperation to camwhore, no?
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On the other side of the temple is Benten-kutsu Cave where Benzaiten and 16 children are chiselled out of the rock walls. Benzaiten is a sea goddess and the only female among the Seven Gods of Japan. Her temples and shrines are located near water - the sea, a river or a pond. She is the patron of music, the fine arts and good fortune in general and usually carries a biwa (Japanese mandolin) or plays a lute.
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How the interior of the Benten-kutsu Cave looks like.
The interior of the cave was dark and the ceiling was so low that I had to bend my body in almost all parts of the cave and it was not comfortable at all to be in that position. That is why when I came out from the cave, I felt something was not right. I was walking in a weird body posture. That was when I realised that I was diagnosed with first degree of osteoporosis.
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Well, that is just an excuse to camwhore for the last time in this entry.

~ to be continued ~


Kae Vin said...

Wow I couldn't take my eyes off of the resemblance of both of u in the last photo~ R u guys twin? ;p

levian said...

my my .. pretty scenes !! gotta agree, the last photograph IS adorable. :p

would you be interested in exchanging links ?? ;)

Anonymous said...

hmm... i always envy you can travel to places to see nice nice things.:)

Anonymous said...

thanks for your advice. :p yeah it took me a long while to let my anger down. :P

calvin said...

@ specialhuman:
how you know about that? o.O
yes, we used to be siamese twins, but my twin was too mischievious that he was cursed into becoming a stone statue =P

calvin said...

@ levian:
which one is adorable? the one on the right, or the left one?

calvin said...

@ jg:
my intention was to share my travel experiences in my personal journal and i never wanted to create any envy thoughts coming from others. i hope you did enjoy it :)

it was just my own take on that matter and i do experience that at times. the point is, we just have to learn to cool down as much as being pissed off at something too quickly ;)