Jizou Bosatsu or Jizo Bodhisttava is one of the Bodhisttavas or saints worshiped in Buddhism. Jizou is a Japanese translation of the Sanskrit word, Kshitigarbha, the name of a Bodhisattva which means “Earth Womb”.
Jizou appears generally as a shaven-headed figure wearing a Buddhist priest’s surplice with a tin cane in his right hand and a houjyu ball in his left hand.
For 5 billion 670 million years between the death of Buddha and the emergence of Miroku Bosatsu or Bodhisattva Maitreya, Jizou is believed to save mankind caught in the “Six Realms of Reincarnation”. It is therefore common to see Six-Jizou statues, each representing a state of six different rebirths, being worshipped in all parts of Japan.
In Japan, belief in Jizo Bosatsu started to spread among people after the “Pure Land” belief took popularity in the Heian period. Later, Six-Jizo worship became prevalent all over Japan, eventually merging with Douso - an ancient belief born in Japan, These were the foundation of what we see today.
Bosatsu is the second highest Buddha after Nyorai or the Healing Buddha. Despite that elevated status, Jizo Bosatsu declared he won`t go back to the world of Bodhisattva until he realizes the salvation of all beings. He is believed to continue travelling the six realms of reincarnation on foot to salvage the souls of all beings.
Kawara, are roofing tiles made of fired clay.
History indicates that Kawara first appeared in China around 2,800 years ago. They were introduced to Japan in the middle of the 6th Century, at the same time Buddhism was introduced from Kudara, now Korea. Kawara were reportedly first used for the Asuka Temple in Japan.
At that time, temples were the only buildings allowed to use Kawara roofing tiles. In the Nara period, however. Kawara began to be used for various other types of buildings.
In the Edo period, new styles of Kawara were invented and the tiles came into popular use. Their widespread use was encouraged because they are fire proof.
Kawara are roughly classified into two categories in Japan: Nyouyaku Gawara or Glazed tiles and Ibushi Kawara or tiles which have oxidized and formed a silver- colored carbon film. As for shapes, there are now more than 1,000 varieties of Kawara.
Currently Sanshuu Kawara in Aichi, Awaji Kawara in Hyogo and Sekishu Kawara in Shimane are the three biggest production districts of high quality Kawara. They represent the finest in Japanese roofing tile making.
Zeami, also called Kanze Motokiyo, was a Japanese aesthetician, actor and playwright in the early Muromachi period (1336-1573). He was born in 1363 as a son of Kan’ami, a master Noh player. His childhood name was Oniyasha. He named himself Zeamidabutsu, a Buddhist name of the Jishu sect, which was later contracted into Zeami. However, he was commonly called Saburo.
When Kan’ami’s company performed in Kumano for the 3rd Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the 18-year old Shogun was fascinated by Zeami, who was at the age of 12. Since then Zeami was patronized by the Shogun and his accomplished performance was highly appraised by the nobility and high-ranking warriors. Nijo Yoshimoto, the regent and a famous renga poet of the time, was also impressed by his talent and presented him with the name Fujiwaka.
Being in contact with aristocratic culture and arts, Zeami enhanced his aesthetic thory. He established the Noh theater in the present form with his father and succeeded the title, Kanze-dayu, after his father’s death.
He wrote a lot of Noh plays, which are still performed in the same forms today, and also wrote practical instructions for actors including Fushi Kaden and Hanakagami. His aesthetic senses represented by the words “Hisureba hana nari, hisezuba hana naru bekarazu to nari. (If the secret of the flower becomes known to the public, it is not a true flower anymore.)” give vivid impression even to the people living today.
The character form has a left and a right side, which both, in the tortoise plastron and bone characters, were used with the meaning of the present complete character, of ‘army,’ or ‘master, instructor.’ The first form of 師 appearing in the tortoise plastron and bone characters is the left part of the character resembling the form of a big piece of meat fried on a skewer. It depicts the piece of meat the departing army uses to worship the ancestors when going to war praying for victory in war; by this time it alone had the meaning ‘army.’ The army always carried this meat around with it. The right part is the form of a knife with a blood stopper and a handle. Apart from the meaning ‘army,’ 師 was also used with the meaning of the person that has the authority to cut this meat. From the background that after retirement from active service these persons often were in charge of youth education, it also was used with the meaning ‘teacher.’
In contrast to ceremonies in Buddhism, the custom of offering meat afterwards was continued in Confucianism. In the realm of Confucianism, i.e. China, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Japan, when worshipping the previous sages and teachers of ancient China as, for example, in the 釈奠 ‘Sekiten, (Shakuten, Sakuten): Big Ceremony of Confucius Worship’ this is an important element of the ritual. In Japan, for example, meat also is at the center of the worship rituals for Confucius at the ‘Yushima Seido: Yushima Confucius Shrine’ in Tokyo.
Besides, the character form of 帥 ‘Sui: general, leader’ may well seem to resemble 師, if, however, one has a look at the tortoise plastron and bone characters, the left part depicts the doors of a board enshrining deities, and the right part 巾 shows a cloth. It is of a completely different lineage.
Goshiki-dai Plateau, located in the border of Takamatsu City and Sakaide City in Kagawa Prefecture, is the lava mass composed of five peaks. The five peaks are slightly different in color; hereby they were named Black Peak, Blue Peak, White Peak, Yellow Peak and Red Peak according to the five colors of Buddhism.
Driving on the road running on the hillside, you can enjoy fine views of the Seto Inland Sea and the mountains in Okayama Prefecture. You can also enjoy the seasonal changes in scenery including wild birds and azalea in spring and crimson foliage and orange picking in fall. The walking trails, the grass land and camping sites are provided on the hillside. You can also visit Kagawa Natural Science Museum and The Seto Inland Sea Folk History Museum (consolidated into Kagawa Prefectural Museum in April, 2008).
White Peak located in the western part of the plateau is presumed to have been where the retired emperor Sutoku, who had been defeated in the Hogen Rebellion and exiled to this province, was cremated. Many historic sites concerning the retired emperor remain in the mountain.
Rokutanji Temple located at the foot of Mt. Nijo in Taishi-cho, Minami-Kawachi-gun, Osaka Pref. is the oldest rock-cut temple in Japan. In the Nara period (710-794), the temple was created by carving natural tuff rock bed. At the center of the precinct stands a 13-story stone pagoda. The sitting images of Nyorai Sanzon-butsu (Nyorai Triad) are carved in line on the rock in the alcove hollowed in the eastern cliff. The head and chest of the Nyorai on the left have already been weathered away. Although a lot of rock-cut temples ruins are found in the Asian continent, they are rare in Japan. Rokutanji Temple ruin is one of those rare rock cave temple of Japan’s ancient Buddhism.
Hakusan Shrine located in Nakayama, Hachioji City, Tokyo is a historic shrine. The enshrined deity is Izanagi no Mikoto. The exact era of its foundation is unknown, but according to the postscript of the Lotus Sutra excavated from the sutra mound in the precinct, the shrine had already existed in the late Heian period (794-1192), The postscript indicates that there used to be a temple named Choryuji as a jinguji (a temple housed in a shrine) in the precinct and the sutra is presumably dedicated in 1154 by the monk Benchi, a kinsman of Musashibo Benkei, who is said to have copied and dedicated the Lotus Sutra to seven shrines in the Kanto region.
The shrine was burned down by fire in the battle fought between the Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s forces and the Hojo clan at the siege of Odawara in 1590, but it was rebuilt in 1613. The 1,000-year-old Japanese umbrella pine tree in the precinct was designated as a Natural Monument by Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Nichiren was a Buddhist monk in the Kamakura period (1192-1333) and the founder of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. Born in Awa province (present-day Chiba Prefecture) in 1222, Nichiren began his Buddhist study at a nearby temple, Seichoji, at the age of 12. He was formally ordained four years later at 16. Then he visited temples in Nara and Kyoto including Shitennoji Temple and Koyasan Kongobuji Temple for more in-depth study. Through the study of Nenbutsu (Buddhist invocation), Zen and Shingon (esoteric practice), he became convinced of the pre-eminence of the Lotus Sutra. In 1253, he founded his own sect of Buddhism at Seichoji Temple and recited “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” for the first time. He changed his name to Nichiren, wherein the kanji character for nichi (日) means “sun” and that for ren (蓮) means “lotus.”
In 1260, he wrote “the Rissho Ankoku Ron (Treatise on securing the peace of the land through the establishment of the correct),” in which he criticized all the other sects of Japanese Buddhism. It prompted a severe backlash, especially from among priests of other Buddhist sects and the Kamakura Shogunate. Nichiren was harassed and exiled four times in his life. When he was exiled to Sado, an island in the Japan Sea, he wrote two of his most important doctrinal treatises, “the Kaimoku Sho (On the opening of the eyes)” and “the Kanjin no Honzon Sho (The object of devotion for observing the mind in the fifth five-hundred year period).” It was also during his exile on Sado, in 1272, that he inscribed the first Gohonzon, the mandala that he intended as a graphic representation of the essence of the Lotus Sutra.
Nichiren spent the rest of his life at Minobu, where he and his disciples erected Kuonji Temple and he continued writing and training his disciples. In 1282, Nichiren died in Edo (present-day Tokyo). The Japanese imperial court awarded Nichiren the honorific designations “Nichiren Daibosatsu (Great Bodhisattva Nichiren)” in 1358 and “Rissho Daishi (Great Teacher Rissho) in 1922.