Ojo-Ji Temple


Oojooji 往生寺 Temple Ojo-Ji

The temple houses a statue of "Namikiri Fuko" 波切不動
carved by Kobo Daishi Kukai.

The huge bronze bell in the compound is called
yuuyake no kane 夕焼けの鐘 "The bell of Sunset".
It is said to be the model for the famous song of
Yuuyake koyake 夕焼小焼.
- Reference - yuyake koyake song -

In the back garden of the temple is the grave of Saint Karukaya.

Another building in the temple compound is the
Karukaya doo かるかや堂 / 刈萱堂 Karukaya Hall.

In memory of the legendary figures of
Saint Karukaya 刈萱上人 - 等阿法師
and his son Ishidoomaru 石堂丸 Ishidomaru

〒380-0867 長野県長野市西長野往生地1334
source : jodo.jp

The story of Karukaya 
... Ishidomaru returns to Mount Koya to study under Karukaya. A few yeas later Karukaya, after seeing the Amida Buddha at Zenkoji in a dream, moves to Zenkoji, Nagano.
When Ishidomaru later learns, also in a dream ... that his teacher was no other than his father, he moves to Zenkoji.
Posthumously Karukaya and Ishidomaru became exalted as the father and son Jizo Bodhisattvas.
The pietistic layman Karukaya represents the Koya-hijiri (Holy Man of Koya) who advocated the holy order of the Mount Koya Shingon school.

Ikumi Kaminishi
source : books.google.co.jp


Karukayado Hall
Long ago, Karukaya Doshin and Ishido-maru
studied and trained in this hall for 40 years. Jizo-statues of father and the son are enshrined inside the hall. The story of Karukaya Doshin and Ishido-maru was carved and placed on the wall. The story is that Ishido-maru started on a journey with his mother to meet his father, then a monk named Karukaya Doshin. They made it all the way to Koyasan, but his mother was not allowed to enter because of the strict rule that prohibited women from entering Koyasan. So Ishido-maru took his mother to an inn in Kamuro and went back to Koyasan by himself.
While waiting for Ishido-maru to return, his mother became very sick and died. Unknown to Ishido-maru at the time, his mother's death had made him an orphan. Ishido-maru continued walking toward Koyasan to meet his father. Once he arrived in Koyasan, his father would not admit that Ishido-maru was his own son. However, they understood each other and had begun to train and practice together in Koyasan. This sad story of Karukaya Doshin and Ishido-maru is one of the more famous legends about Koyasan.
source : www.koyasan.net

Karukaya Noh Play

source : www.artic.edu/aic

Tsukioka Kogyo (1869-1927)
from the series "Pictures of No Performances (Nogaku Zue)", 1898

A well-loved theme in Noh and Kabuki

苅萱桑門筑紫 Karukaya Doshin Tsukushi no Iezuto

- Reference Karukaya Noh

石童丸人形 Ishidomaru Dolls

. Dolls from Nagano .


. Zenkooji 善光寺 Zenko-Ji .

. Namu Amida Butsu 南無阿弥陀仏 Amida Prayer .

for a safe passage to the Amida Paradise in the West after death
Gokuraku oojoo 極楽往生 gokuraku-ojo 



. - - - - - Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 - - - - - .

chiru hana ya naga-nagashi hi mo ôjôji (oojooji)

cherry blossoms scatter
on a long, long day...
Ojo Temple

The name of the temple is significant; it means "Let-Go-of-Life." It is appropriate that the cherry blossoms "let go of life" here. Notto R. Thelle notes the specific meaning that ôjo has in Pure Land Buddhism: "It is a classical term for (going) to be born in the Pure Land. The evening with the setting sun,the scattering blossoms etc. obviously allude to classical images of dying, waiting for Amida Buddha to come and lead the person to new life (birth) in Amida's Pure Land." In a similar haiku about Ojo Temple, written immediately before this one in Issa's journal, the blossoms scatter "toward the setting sun."
"Blossoms" (hana) can denote cherry blossoms in the shorthand of haiku.

Tr. and comment by David Lanoue


hana chiru ya hi no iru kata ga Oujouji

petals scattering --
the sun goes down
beyond Ojoji Temple

This hokku was written in the 3rd month (April) of 1818, when Issa was in what is now called Nagano City, the largest town near Issa's home village. The hokku is one of several written about a visit there to the Pure Land sect temple, pronounced Oujouji (with long o vowels), located not far from the famous Tendai and Pure Land temple Zenkoji.

The word oujou means "going and being born" and is short for "leaving this life and being born as a Buddha in the Pure Land," the basic goal of life in Pure Land Buddhism. However, the founder of the Reformed Pure Land sect, Shinran, preached that in addition to birth as a Buddha in the Pure Land after death, birth as a Buddha and the cutting of strands of karmic causation can also take place in this life, since the Pure Land is beyond time and space.

"Rebirth" is probably not the best choice as a translation, since rebirth suggests reincarnation and karmic continuity. For Issa, too, oujou seems to have a double meaning, and his many hokku sometimes suggest moments of such birth in the midst of daily life. At the same time, the back side of main hall of Ojoji Temple, which has a statue of Amida Buddha inside, faces west, since the sun is used in Pure Land sects as a metaphor for Amida's infinite light of pure compassion. Worshipers face west when they pray to Amida, and in the popular imagination this orientation was often taken to refer to a literal cosmic geography.

Issa seems to take comfort in the fact that the sun is going down in the west beyond the statue of Amida in the main hall of Ojoji Temple and that the sun's rays suggest Amida has compassion even for the myriad petals that fall gently as if filled with faith from the cherry trees, but he is not saying that the petals are falling westward. He does not seem to be looking for literal miracles. Three hokku later in Issa's diary is this humorous hokku:

chiru hana no tatsumi e soreru hedama kana

falling petals
stray to the southeast
because of my fart

Issa surely believes Amida feels the same compassion for the petals sent eastward by his fart as for the other petals, and his hyperbole is liberating because it refuses to take the metaphor of the west literally, though the power of the sun setting, especially amid falling cherry petals, obviously makes the metaphor valuable as an image for visualizing Amida's infinite light shining on all changing things. Issa may even be suggesting that the physical sun itself, as it falls toward the western horizon, is ultimately nothing more than a huge petal of light: no thing in the visible universe can compare with the incomparable, which is what the name Amida means.

Chris Drake


. Japan - Shrines and Temples .

. Amulets and Talismans from Japan . 


1 comment:

Gabi Greve said...

Karukaya (苅萱), Japan's First Illustrated Book

"Karukaya is a so-called 'companion story' ascribed to Japan's Muromachi period, approximately 590 years ago. I see it to be Japan's oldest illustrated book. This view of course is not meant to overlook the large bulk of painted handscrolls produced in the preceding Heian and Kamakura eras (roughly 900 to 1300 AD). However, in the genre of illustrated storybooks, Karukaya can probably be taken with relative confidence as a historic starting point (even though art historians have yet to reach a definitive conclusion on the matter)."
--Yusaku Kamekura, from Creation v. 7 (1990)