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. . .Update '98.03.Dec map

 


Hotoke no sato, Kunisaki Hanto.

It means "Kunisaki Peninsula, the home of Buddha". ---Usa Shrine was created in the later of 6th century and constructed fine in the first half of the Nara period (710 - 794) in present-day Usa City.

Over time, Usa Shrine came to have more influence in the Kunisaki area, developing a distinct culture.

In the eighth century, it designated 28 mountains as holy places of worship. Temples were built in each of the mountains and various Buddha statues were enshrined in them. (According to one theory these order issued 718 a.d.)

Each of these temples had a role. They were places for religious inquiry, places for the mountaineering ascetic, and places for Buddhist monks to make contact with the secular people.

Kunisaki Buddhist culture matured under the influence of Usa Hachiman culture. Incidentally, Hachiman meant gods of archery -- Emperor Oujin was at the center of them -- revered by people. Please look this up if you are interested in the historical detail.

Reflecting the size of the local culture, the temples and shrines of Kunisaki (except Usa Shrine) are mostly small buildings compared to those in Nara and Kyoto where power was concentrated at the time. Also, compared to Kyoto there is little tourist information available.

Since I like the unique qualities and textures of the stone of Kunisaki, I would recommennd three places.

First, the Niou (guardian gods) of Monju temple ;
second, Kawanaka-Fudo of Tennen temple --the three bodies sculptured out of an island of rock in the river which have Fudo myouou (the god of fire) , 3.2 meters high, at the center -- ;
and lastly Kumano-Magaibutsu where the Fudo Myouou, 8 meters high, and Buddha "Dainichi Nyorai" ( "nyorai" means a tathagata or person who has attained Buddhahood ), 6.8 meters high, are carved in the rock of a cliff.
If you'll be seening only one of these places, I would recommend Kumano-Magaibutsu.


It is said that long ago when the number of doctors were few, the people of Kunisaki would pray for healing of their ailments while rubbing their foreheads on the feet of the guardian gods.
Though the gods were carved from mere stone, I believe that if the spirits had been present the people's prayers would have been largely answered. My collection of pictures of the guardian gods proliferated as I thought about such things.

 

" Kumano-Magaibutsu " at Bungotakada City, it's body is carved halfway.

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" the Niou (guardian gods) of Monju temple " at Kunisaki town.


 

" Kawanaka-Fudo " at the Tennen Temple in the countryside of Bungotakada City.

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These photographs are possible when the conditions such as season are best.

PHOTOGRAPH LIST.

01. A close-up of Iwato Temple guardian god, Kunisaki town.

02. The heads of rice damaged by the drenching that came with the typhoon, are tied up to bamboo sticks so they stand upright. Despite all this hard work, this rice ended up being labeled as second rate quality due to the abundant harvest elsewhere.

03. The long stone stairway and one of the guardian gods of the Monju Temple gate.

04. Children in the Nameshi district returning home after school on the day it snowed, Bungotakada city.

05. Rarely seen, two Deva Kings beside each other in the town of Aki.

06. My photographic experiment. One of the guardian gods at the temple, Kunimi Town.

07. Exuberant blossoms of a tree peony and a guardian god of Oreki Temple.

08. This time, a different year, the guardian god is captured in sharp focus.

09. A splendidly developed wisteria in flower was found near Nameshi.

10. A little piece of scenery taken at Choan Temple, Togou district.
"That refreshing air / A special treat! / A mountain temple in summer" is inscribed on the rock.

11. One of the guardian gods at Kunimi Town temple.

12. Scenery when the cherry tree bloom.

13. One of the Deva Kings of the Wakamiya Hachiman, Bungotakada City.

14. A picture of monument of stone, near Old Sentou-Temple.

15. This is a guardian god of a small shrine after the autumn leaves have fallen. Some snow on the roof of shrine.

16. Here, the rice sack on the harvesting machine has become full and is being changed.

17. Fall' landscape at the highest place in Iwato area, Kunisaki town.

18. Ebisu valley mountains, autumn leaves in focus.

19. Burning rice fields in the winter evening, at Matama Town.

20. 500 stone statues of consummate Buddhist sages at the famous Toko Temple near the peninsula.


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