Five years ago in the month of September I flew by British Airways from Heathrow to Narita airport near Tokyo.
I was part of a group of three - myself, my Sensei (teacher) and my friend 'H'. We had been invited by my sensei's Sensei to visit one of his temples where we could stay and then travel to Hiei-zan (Mount Hiei) where there is a vast complex of Tendai Buddhist temples overlooking the city of Kyoto. We would be in Japan for three weeks. The weather was still hot and humid and would remain so until just before we left when the season changed noticeably to autumn.
Here are the main characters in this piece and the temple where we stayed.
May I introduce my Sensei who is a Buddhist priest in the Japanese Tendai sect.
and our friend 'H'
Our small private temple was 20 minutes drive from Chiba New Town which is about 2 hours by train to the north of Tokyo. The pictures show us keeping the temple grounds clear of leaves and cleaning the temple kitchen. No-one had stayed there for a long time.
(this story is going to go on and on and on....
Last Edit: Sept 27, 2010 19:46:30 GMT by spindrift
The temple is called Tamon-in - it is not used for regular services, it is utilized as living quarters for Buddhist priests, scholars and laypeople visiting from abroad. Tamon is another name for Vaishravana who is the main deity there and is one of the Kings of Light. There are, in fact, two temples in the compound, one is a small temple (behind my sensei) dedicated to the deity and the other is the larger Hon-do which has an altar in it and the main image of this is Amida Buddha flanked by the attendant bodhisattvas Kanon and Seishi. We were living in the Hon-do.
The stone markers are grave stones in the grounds. It is a meritorious to have your ashes marked by an engraved stone on sacred Buddhist ground. I will post some close-up pictures of these stones.
Last Edit: Sept 27, 2010 19:47:18 GMT by spindrift
Tamon (Japanese) translated as 'Listening to Many Teachings, Vaishravana(Sanskrit origin) and Bishamon-ten (Japanese) are all names of the same deity who is actually one of the Four Heavenly Kings (Shitenno). He lives in the fourth layer of Mount Sumeru, and protects people living in the northern part of the world. He also protects the preaching place of the Buddha and hears the law. In Japan, he is regarded as one of the shichi-fuku-jin (seven beneficent deities).
Last Edit: Sept 27, 2010 19:48:16 GMT by spindrift
I'm happy that you're all interested. I'm very much enjoying resizing the pics and remembering the great time I had in Japan. We lived entirely the Japanese way; for 3 weeks we did not sit on chairs, we ate at low tables, we slept on tatami mats on futons with rice-husk-filled pillows, we ate only Japanese food with chopsticks and I learned to speak in Japanese when phoning for a taxi. It was a tremendous adventure and I can truthfully say that it changed my life. Additionally I learned to appreciate Japanese art and architecture, colour and form - wabi sabi which loosely means aesthetic sensibility. I'm not sure I appreciated all of the food
Last Edit: Sept 27, 2010 19:49:17 GMT by spindrift
I just want to quote from notes I made on my way from Narita to Tamon-in for the first time. I had been expecting to be overwhelmed by masses of people and traffic but this is what I wrote:
We are in the deep countryside and see no evidence of crowds or even traffic. Where are all the people we have heard about? The roads are lined with trees, shrubs, bamboo and luxuriant creepers. Narita was nothing like Heathrow; it was almost deserted, quiet and surrounded by fields.
So these are pictures of Tamon-in. The first is the little temple and the next is the Hodo-in where we lived.
Sensei is trying to mend his jacket On the left is the room where he slept....you can see the table at which we sat to eat and talk....and here is the girls' bedroom with futons rolled up. We tended to be untidy some of the time and I'm sure our host was shocked when he visited us.
Last Edit: Sept 27, 2010 19:50:18 GMT by spindrift
Deyana my dear friend - I'll be posting it slowly as I've decided I'd rather re-size all my pictures individually (instead of re-sizing all the same size automatically)...because I think the size of the picture gives the story more meaning....