Monday, September 12, 2011

Visiting the Numanouchi Benzaiten Shrine

Iwaki city is a peaceful city by the Pacific Coast.The city is not a major tourist destination. However there are  few places which are worth a visit on weekends when you don't want to travel far. One such place we came across was the Numanouchi Benzaiten Temple. The temple is located on a small hillock and is hidden behind trees. It is not easy to locate the temple without a car navigation system or without asking for directions.

 The Numanouchi Benzaiten temple is dedicated to "Benten" or "Benzaiten", the female deity of Fortune, water, music, poetry, arts and learning. It is believed that Benten is the Japanese name for the Hindu goddess of learning, Saraswati.  Benzaiten is the only female deity among the "Shichi Fuku Jin" the seven lucky gods.  A carved stone depicting the "Shichi Fuku Jin" at the temple. In this Benzaiten can be seen seated with a "Biwa" or lute in her hand ( second from right).

The temple is said to date back to the 9th century, a fact perhaps evident from the weathered wooden structure.
The wooden temple building is engraved with wood carvings. 
It is also called Kashikonumadera because of the Kashikonuma pond located next to it. 
"Numa-no-uchi" means  house in the pond and this explains the meaning of the temple's name. 

It is said that giant eels and carps live in the Kashikonuma pond. These fish have been designated as living natural monuments. Visitors can purchase small packets of breadcrumbs for the fish.

The small wooden structure next to the pond has a colourfully painted roof depicting creatures from mythology.

The site of the old wooden structures amidst greenery and with a lake makes the place picturesque. 

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