Japan

Showa Daibutsu in Aomori

Showa Daibutsu at Seiryu-ji

Today we head to the suburbs of Aomori to explore a very recently built temple grounds that boasts of Showa Daibutsu, the largest seated Buddha in all of Japan.

After a lot of ifs and buts, we eventually decided to visit the Seiryu-ji Temple The weather around Aomori had been overcast with regular spells of rains Seiryu-ji Temple (青龍寺) is located in suburb of Aomori city It has on its premises some beautiful buildings including a five-story pagoda built exclusively using Aomori Hiba wood Along with the temple grounds we were particularly interested in exploring the huge Showa Daibutsu, with height of 2135 meters, which is Japan’s largest seated bronze statue of Buddha, even larger than one of Nara or Kamakura Aomori Station to Seiryu-ji We took the earliest
Yamadera in Fall

Fall leaves at Yamadera Temple

Yamadera (山寺) is a scenic temple located in the mountains northeast of Yamagata City.

This journal is mostly about my Fall experience in Yamadera (山寺), a scenic temple located in the mountains northeast of Yamagata City When autumn deepens and the leaves begin to change color in the the fall months, hunting for autumn foliage has become a popular pastime in Japan Watching my friends post the mesmerizing beauty of Autumn forced me to also schedule my tour to Japan during this time of the year Mind you, this need to visit far off places to appreciate the beauty of autumn has been a custom since ancient time as depicted in “The Tale of the Genji” Even in the eighth century we have scenes that
Shorinzan Darumaji Temple

Daruma Dolls of Syorinzan Darumaji Temple

Today we head out to the Syorinzan Darumaji Temple in the Takasaki countryside. Constructed in 1697, the Zen temple is the birthplace of “Takasaki Daruma” dolls used as a talisman for good luck.

On the last leg of our trip to Kanto, I and my wife, Ranita, were lodged at the Toyoko Inn at Takasaki Over the last couple of days, Takasaki proved to be a great base for visiting places we had on our bucket list, around Tokyo in the Kanto region The town is itself famous for the tradition of the Daruma dolls used as a talisman for good luck The Daruma doll is a hollow, rounded traditional Japanese doll with large eyes, modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism These dolls are typically red in color but can also come in different colors We were leaving for Nagano

The shrines of Nikko

Today Mani & I visit the temples of Nikko in Tochigi. The vibrant temples at this World Heritage site are strikingly different in appearance from other temples I have witnessed in Japan. The lavishly decorated pillars and other structures are covered in a gold leaves and multitude carvings conveying expressions of religious belief as well as scholarship and philosophy.

It was a sudden rush of the moment when I decided to visit the shrines of Nikko The day before I was shuffling through some souvenirs at the Tougyoku Doll museum, when I chanced upon a set of hand painted cards of popular UNESCO sites in Japan The box contained a set of six UNESCO sites, of which I had visited all, barring Nikko So it was decided right then that we were going to Nikko the next day The “Shrines and Temples of Nikko” refer to the Toshogu and Futarasan-jinja shrines, the Rinnoji temple and the surrounding sacred forest located in Tochigi Prefecture, in the northern part of Japan’s Kanto region

The Nangaku-ji Temple

Scattered throughout Yamagata Prefecture, there are over two dozen mummified Japanese monks known as Sokushinbutsu. The process of self-mummification was mainly practiced by monks in Northern Japan between the 11th and 19th century. Today we walk down to the Buddhist mummy of Nangakuji Temple in Tsuruoka that holds the remains of Tetsuryou-kai, mummified at the age of 44, in a meditating pose, to understand what drove these monks towards this self inflicted, painful death.

From the beautiful prefecture of Akita, we were headed to Niigata Unfortunately there are no Shinkansen lines along this route, so we caught a local JR train along the Uetsu Line to Sakata From Sakata we changed to another train on the Inaho line towards Niigata The Inaho line passes through endless paddy fields During summer, the lush green fields are a treat to the eyes On the way we had planned to take a break at Tsuruoka in Yamagata Prefecture to visit the Nangaku temple The Nangaku Temple houses the mummy of Tetsuryukai’s, who
Yamadera Temple

Hike to Yamadera Temple

What better to do on the “Mountain Day” than to hike up the steep mountainside up to the Yamadera temple in Yamagata. The temple was founded over a thousand years ago in 860 AD under the official name Risshakuji but people generally know it by its more popular name “Yamadera” which means mountain temple. But to get there first I need to conquer a thousand steps, is it a bit more than I bargained for..

After witnessing the exhilarating warrior floats of Aomori Nebuta Museum, I began my journey towards Yamadera The Hayabusa Shinkansen brought me to Sendai and from there I switched to the local train to Yamadera Yamadera Station is about a 40-minute train ride from Sendai, Tohoku’s most happening city The local train to Yamadera goes very slowly through the beautiful and thrilling mountainous territory Many self-mummified monks trained among these mountains of Haguro, Gassan and Yudono Their bodies still lie at these sacred sites, the locations of which are closely guarded by the locals  The train dropped me off at the Yamadera station at about 1 pm From the small station, I walked straight towards the location of the temple
Nagomi Jizo Hasedera Temple

Jizo of Kamakura Hase-Dera

I went down to Kamakura today to take a look at the 1001 Buddhas at Hase Dera. The temple grounds is adorned with hundreds of small statues of the Jizo Bodhisattva, who helps the souls of deceased children to reach paradise.

This is the second part of my day tour of Kamakura I spent the early part of the day basking in the glory of the great Kamakura Daibutsu That concluded my bucket-list of visiting all the three most-revered Buddha Temples in Japan The first one obviously being the Great Buddha of Todai-ji and the other – the Takaoka Daibutsu For those who didn’t read the first part of my story, I traveled for more than 4 hours today, all the way from Nara in Kansai, on train, to visit the Kamakura Daibutsu and then, if time permitted spend some time at the Kamakura Hase-dera Once I had my
Kamakura Buddha

The great Buddha of Kamakura

The Great Buddha of Kamakura is a monumental bronze statue of Amitābha Buddha located at the Kōtoku-in Temple in Kamakura. The bronze statue dates back to 1252 AD, in the Kamakura period.

Today I went to visit the Great Buddha of Kamakura It is a monumental outdoor bronze statue of Amitabha Buddha at the Kōtoku-in Temple in Kamakura of Kanagawa Prefecture According to temple records, the statue dates from around 1252 CE, in the Kamakura period It is now designated as a National Treasure of Japan My JR Pass was still active The train pass has been incredibly helpful for travelling to faraway places in Japan without incurring much expenses I stay in Nara, which is almost 500 km away from Kamakura – but armed with my JR Pass – not too far away! The ride from Nara to Kamakura
Horyuji Temple

Exploring the Horyu-ji Temple

Hōryū-ji is one of the seven great temples of Nara. Today we investigate the Pagoda at the grounds, said to be one of the oldest standing wooden structures in history. The tree used in the construction of the Pagoda dates back to 594 A.D. Can wood even survive that long!

Hōryū-ji (法隆寺) is one of the seven great temples of Nara The temple is a central artifact in the history of Japan and just invoking its name is enough to bring a sparkle in the eyes of most Japanese The original temple was commissioned by Prince Shōtoku in 607 CE and even though the complex has been hit by fire more than a few times, it still boasts the presence of the world’s oldest wooden building known to man Summer was upon us On a lazy Sunday, Me & Mani, left our dorm for Hōryū-ji at around noon In the steaming hot weather, with only the occasional breeze providing some relief, we walked

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