Thursday, September 25, 2014

Miyajima : Daisho-in Temple

Most visitors to Miyajima, focus on a visit to the Itsukushima Shrine and the Senjokaku. Very few visitors explore the island's other attractions. One such place is the Daisho-in temple. 
Located at the base of Mt Misen, Miyajima's highest peak, Daisho-in temple is an important temple of Shingon Buddhism. Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, had proclaimed Mt Misen as a holy place for the Shingon sect, thus beginning the practice of Buddhism on Miyajima. Kobo Daishi is said to have founded the Daisho in temple in 806 AD.
The Daisho-in temple complex is a spread over a large area on the slopes of Mt Misen. Various statues and buildings are spread over the temple complex. 

At the centre of the stairway leading up to the temple, is the Dai-hannyakyo Sutra, a row of spinning metal bells with the Buddhist sutras inscribed on them. 

Turning the bells while walking is considered equivalent to reading the sutras. 

Along another stairway are Rakan statues. They represent the 500 disciples of Shaka Nyorai. 

The statues have different facial expressions.
Various cute jizo statues are spread throughout the temple complex. 

We also came across a few statues that displayed Buddhism's link to Hinduism.
These statues feature the Buddhist versions of the Hindu gods, Ganesha, Saraswati and Shiva. 

The temple's main buildings are the Kannon-do Hall, Mani-den Hall and a tea room. The Maniden Hall enshrines the three main deities of Mt Misen. 

Reihokan is a hall where treasures of the Daisho in temple are exhibited. 

Henjokutsu is a cave filled with 88 icons that represent the temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage, an important pilgrimage to Japanese Buddhists. 

It is believed that walking in the cave is equivalent to taking the difficult Shikoku Pilgrimage.  
The Hakkaku Manpuku is an octagonal hall where Shichi Fukujin, the Seven Deities of Good Fortune are enshrined.
A reclining image of Shaka Nyorai is  housed in the Shaka Nehan Hall. 
The statue is surrounded by statues of 16 disciples of Shaka Nyorai.  

We also walked through a dark underground tunnel with dimly lit Buddhist icons on the walls.  

Several interesting statues can be seen in the temple complex.

A hiking trail from the temple grounds leads to the summit of Mount Misen. It takes about 90 minutes to reach the peak from the Daisho-in temple. 

A narrow street from near the exit of the Itsukushima Shrine takes visitors to the Daisho-in temple. 

Official Website: Daisho-in (Japanese only)

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