京のキー Hiei-zan framed

Hiei-zan framed

There are many temples hidden in the mountains behind Andy's house (beyond the Midorogaike pond) and so we decided to spend Midori-no-hi* exploring a few.

Entsu-ji was our first port of call as it was closest, up an exceptionally steep hill (25% gradient!). Originally an imperial villa called the Hataeda Palace, built by Emperor Gomizuno in 1639, the nun Enkoinbunei transformed the buildings into a temple in 1678 with the support of Prince Rinnojishuchohoshinno. Enkoinbunei had previously been the former attendant of the Emperor Gomizuno's mother, Chunamonin. Keisen Soryu, the tenth head priest of Myoshin-ji Temple, became the temple's first abbot.

Enkoinbunei made wood block prints of the sutra Hensoufumonbon that were famously sent to temples in China. The temple still possesses a hanging scroll made by the Emperor Reigen. Entsu-ji is perhaps most well known for its rock-garden, which was constructed to place Mt. Hiei as a backdrop, though I found the most interesting part of the temple an unusual statue of kannon in its prayer hall. The statue is a kind of optical illusion, arms and clothes carved to create the appearance of a grinning skull around the belly. Unfortunately photos were not allowed and no postcards are sold.

It was ultimately a disappointing visit, too much money spent on a brand new car-park than the upkeep of the temple precincts itself. But that said, if you ever get a chance, I would recommend visiting the skull-kannon.
*Midori-no-hi (Greenery Day) was previously celebrated on 29th April, in honour of Emperor's Showa's birthday. With Emperor Akihito's accession the name of the holiday was changed from the Emperor's Birthday, to Greenery Day. The name change was also convenient, as it celebrated the wartime Emperor by indirectly acknowledging his love of nature. In 2007 a new holiday was created on May 4th, and so 29th April reverted to Showa's Birthday and Greenery Day took up new position between Constitution Day (May 3rd) and Children's Day (May 5th).

This was once my favorite temple in town, but they’ve gone and done a remarkable job of destroying any atmosphere it once had. Complete shame.
ted (Email) (URL) - 02 06 10 - 07:28

Hi Ted, Hope you are well. Yeah, it is such a shame about the temple. I visited about four years ago and remember it being a lovely place, but today just made me feel sad. I guess it is kind of inevitable in Kyoto…even the far out temples are no longer immune to modernisation. It was a great cycle though, and the kannon is pretty special.
Ki - 03 06 10 - 02:01

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Rhod and Ki's tour of life in Kyoto, Japan.

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