難波の南蛮、戎橋の夷。

Shitennoji

A little ways southeast of my apartment is a very significant and historic temple called Shitennoji.  Quite old indeed, it was founded in the 7th century on the orders of the legendary Prince Shotoku, famous for promulgating Buddhism and Chinese influences in Japan and reforming the government from  a shamanistic kingship to something more of an administrative state.  It was so renowned and famous, that an entire city called Tennoji sprung up around it, before the city of Osaka had even been founded.  Tennoji didn’t even become part of Osaka City until 1925.

It was mostly destroyed by American bombing, but retains its significance.  For a temple in the middle of a megacity rather bereft of large temples, this place is huge.  It truly is a temple compound rather than just one temple, with all sorts of side halls, reliquaries, and small monasteries.  In fact, that whole area of Osaka is still packed with local temples and legitimate cloisters.  I’ve taken to calling the neighborhood “Buddhist Row.”

The stone gate is almost a thousand years old, one of the parts of the temple that survived attack in 1945.

The central compound. The very simple layout- a small main hall and one tower- is still pointed to as a prime example of 7th-century Japanese Buddhist architecture.

Shitennoji is the first temple I've ever visited that let you actually enter the tower, usually off-limits as a reliquary.

This 16th-century side hall is another part of the ancient temple that escaped fire.

There was an open service in the main hall; I stood and meditated as the monks chanted the sutras.  On the way home, a great windstorm arose out of nowhere and literally rendered my old umbrella a twisted wreck.

I am getting very excited these days.  In a week, one of my good classmate friends from Kyoto days is arriving in Tokyo, and my other good friend in Maebashi is coming down for the occasion.  I’ve dreamed of getting together with my friends in Japan, taffing about some city just like we used to.  I didn’t think it would happen so soon.

Besides, there’s still a lot I don’t know about Tokyo, Kansai guy that I am.  Maebashi is a bit north of Tokyo, and my friend goes down for concerts all the time.  Maybe I’ll learn a few things.

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One response

  1. Pingback: A Thousand Years in the Telling | perihele

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