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2008/8/26


薬師寺 東塔 Yaushi-ji Tou-tou East Pagoda at Yakushi-ji Temple

Jp En



Yakushi-ji Temple is located in Nishinokyo in Nara City, Nara Prefecture, and one of two head temples of the Hossou religious sect. The principal image of Buddha is Yakushinyorai. Yakushi-ji Temple is the first temple of the Yakushi Pilgrimage of 49 Temples in Western Japan.  The temple is also one of the Seven Great Temples of Nara.  It was built by the Emperor Tenmu in 680.
Tou-tou or the East Pagoda, towering inside the temple complex, is 33.6m in height. The pagoda is believed to have been renovated in 730 to make it a good counterpart to the West Pagoda.   This was done when the capital was relocated to Heijyou-kyo and the whole temple was moved to the capital. The East Pagoda has been designated as a National Treasure.  The most notable feature of the East Pagoda is that, although it has three stories, its three additional lean-to roofs called mokoshi, make it look as if it has six stories. On the upper part of the tower, there is an openwork ornament called Suien (the Water Flame). There 24 heavenly beings were carved, some of which are playing flutes or planting flower seeds and some offering prayers.  Suien is a charm to protect the pagoda from fire.
The East Pagoda of Yakushi-ji Temple is the only structure that has survived intact for a very long period of time, since the original foundation of the temple.
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2008/7/22


門前町 Monzen-machi Monzen-machi

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    Monzen-machi is a town that was established around the prominent temples and shrines as stores and business developed to serve visitors to the temples and the shrines.
A town that is developed around a shrine is called aTorii-mae-machi (a town in front of torii) and a town established by religious followers is called Jinai-cho or Shake-machi, all of which are widely categorized as Monzen-machi.
Some  noted Monzen-machi are: Narita City, Chiba Prefecture, - developed around the Shinshou-ji Temple,  Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture - developed around theTosho-gu Shrine,  Futarasan Shrine and Rinnou-ji Temple, Ise City, Mie Prefecture - developed around the Ise Shrine,  Izumo City, Shimane Prefecture -  developed around the Izumo Taisha Shrine, located in Kotohira-cho  and Nakatado-gun, Kagawa Prefecture - developed around the Kotohira-gu Shrine.
Monzen-machi is sometimes defined as a religious city.  It embodies the urban culture (chounin bunka) born and developed during the Edo Period when society was relatively peaceful and people’s lives were influenced by and served by temples and shrines.
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2008/3/31


石馬寺 Ishiba-ji Ishibaji Temple

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Ishibaji (Stone Horse Temple) in Gokasho Ishibaji Town in Higashiomi City on the eastern side of Lake Biwa is a historic temple belonging to the Myoshinji school of the Rinzai sect. The principal object of worship is Juichimen Senju Kanzeon Bosatsu (Kannon with 11 faces and 1,000 arms). The temple is famous as the Horse Temple.

Legend has it that when Prince Shotoku visited this village in 594, his horse was turned into a stone and sank in the pond while he was away. Deeply impressed by this incident, Prince Shotoku built up a temple at this place. Beside the ruins of the Daimon gate at the foot the stone steps is the pond where the stone horse sank. You can see the horse back through the water.

The temple belonged to the Hosso Sect of Buddhism until the Middle Ages. As a temple of the Tendai sect, it fought with Oda Nobunaga in the Warring States period (1493-1573) and was burnt down by his forces. The temple was restored in 1644, as a temple of Rinzai Sect of Buddhism, by Zen monk Ungo.

The temple possesses a lot of cultural properties including the wooden plaques on which three kanji characters representing Ishibaji Temple were written by Prince Shotoku himself and the statue of Prince Shotoku on the horseback.
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2008/2/18


妓王寺 Giou-ji Gioji Temple in Yasu

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Other than Gioji Temple in Oku-Sagano in Kyoto, there is a temple named Gioji in Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture. Yasu City is said to be where Gio and Ginyo in Tale of the Heike were born.

After her father’s death, Gio went to Kyoto and became a Shirabyoshi, a dancer that performed traditional Japanese dances dressed as a man. In time, Taira no Kiyomori, the ruler of the country, was captivated by her good looks and tenderness and they fell in love with each other.

Gio asked Kiyomori to construct a canal for the people in her home town, which was suffering from droughts. Thanks to the canal, this area recovered from a bad harvest and became one of the largest rice producing centers in the country. Local people named the canal the Gioi River in token of their thanks.

However, one day, Kiyomori was