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Sacred Sights

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"Six Sides"

Kannon-ji, Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan


One of the great pleasures of pilgrimage is finding that little, hidden jewel.  It's all the more pleasing when it's in "your own backyard."

The Setagaya Kannon (Guan Yin) Temple is just a stone's throw from the apartment where I spent my first two years in Japan; but as it's off the train lines, and not "famous," I never went there.

I went this time only because it's Number 32 of the Edo (Tokyo) 33 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage.

Among the many treasures I found there was this little Rokkakudo, or Six-Sided Hall (with its somewhat incongruous cactus out front).  Six is a number of great significance in Buddhism; among other things, there are six levels of sentient being, from Hungry Ghosts at the bottom to Gods at the top (humans are at Level 4 of this game).  There is a Jizo (Di Zang, Ksitigarbha) lobbying for the souls in Hell  at each level (hence the Edo Rokujizo: the Six Jizos of Edo Pilgrimage that I also completed on this trip.)

You can see the statues in the hall's interior here (requires a PDF reader); the central figure is Fudo Myo-o, the object of a Five-Temple Pilgrimage I completed.  I have not yet identified his eight little companions, all variations on a theme.  This will have to wait until I develop the page for this temple.


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