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.
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