(as seen on October 2nd, 2001,
on the Old Tokaido stage of the Aki
fine Buddhist temple is
located between Narumi and Miya (Nagoya) in Aichi Prefecture, which are Stations #
40 and 41 respectively (from Tokyo) on the
Old Tokaido Highway. You can read about my visit to
Kasadera in my Logbook. You may also choose to start reading about
journey at the beginning, or start at the top of my Aki
|This place has all the elements of any of the big
Kannon temples of western Japan. Here are a few:
||The great Kannon
temples--like many other temples--are often entered through a Niomon,
or "Two Kings Gate." The larger-than-life-sized
kings stand in the two bays on either side of the gate. (Sorry
about the quality of the kings' pictures; they're behind chicken
wire to keep the pigeons off them!)
The traditional interpretation is that these guys look scary,
and you must be pure of heart to pass them. But there's
more to them than that.
|Note that this "king" has
his mouth closed. The next one has his mouth open.
There are various ways to interpret this.
One is that the open-mouthed king is saying "A";
the one with his mouth closed is saying "UN." In
Japanese, "A-UN" is the approximation of the Hindu
universal sound "Aum" or "Om."
So through the great sound "Aum" we approach the
||Another interpretation says that
these are the Yin and Yang of opposition. By going through
the center, we transcend this duality and reach the One.
I like that one a lot, but this third one is my favorite.
The historical Buddha taught that Fear and Desire are two of
the greatest hindrances to spiritual growth. So the
open-mouthed king represents desire--he wants to take in
everything. The closed-mouthed king represents fear--he
partakes of nothing.
If we can get past Fear and Desire, we can be where the
|On to other elements: Here is a very
typical main hall, bedecked with banners and a large, colorful
curtain. Inside the hall there is usually--as here--a
large area for worshippers, screened off from the images; and
also a window that sells trinkets, candles, incense, etc.
||At first, I couldn't figure out why
the curtain on the main hall was marked with UFOs. Then I
remembered the name of the temple, "Kasadera."
Dera or tera means "temple," and kasa
means "umbrella." But it's also the name for the
type of hat I wear--which is depicted here. The umbrella
and the hat serve the same function--protection from sun and rain--and
thus have the same name.
|Here is a two-story pagoda like the
one I saw at Chiryu Shrine yesterday.
||Any good Kannon temple has lots...
|...and lots of subsidiary halls
dedicated to various gods (often including a Daishido
dedicated to Kobo Daishi).