善峰寺Yoshimine-dera Temple is a 天台Tendai Buddhist temple located among hills in the western part of Kyoto; it is the 20th temple for the 西国三十三所Saigoku Sanjuusan-sho (Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage). It was founded by 源算Gensan, a priest and disciple of 源信Genshin, as his retreat in 1029; in 1467 it was burned down during the 応仁の乱Onin War but was rebuilt again in 1621 by 桂昌院Keishoin, the birth mother of the 5th 徳川将軍Tokugawa Shogun, 徳川綱吉Tsuanyoshi Tokugawa.
I’ve been wanting to write about this temple for a while because it was such a fascinating and fun visit.
Mr. Man drove me to Yoshimine in mid-February 2009 because it was on the list of temples participating in the 数珠巡礼Juzu Junrei (Rosary Pilgrimage). When we got out after driving up to the parking lot, I was a bit nauseous from the ride and being up so high but we still had a way to go before getting to the main entrance of the temple.
the bridge to the steep climb up to Yoshimine after parking nearby
only halfway up the zig-zag path
finally the entrance…to the main entrance
a jizo along the stairs up to the main entrance
FINALLY the 山門sanmon (楼門roumon), or the two-storied main entrance gate
one of the guardians of the temple through the glass (there are two)
right after paying the ￥500 entrance fee and entering…the stairs lead to the 本堂hondoh (main hall)
the main hall, also called 観音堂Kannon-doh where the statue of Kannon carved by Gensan is
We aren’t allowed to take pictures in the main hall; however, outside of it was okay.
the view down toward the entrance from the side of the main hall
the pond on one side of the main hall
roof-tile emas on the other side of the hall
We ended up not going into the main hall; instead, we took the stairs up to the area that has “the best pine tree in Japan”.
The route for the temple was numbered, that was how we kept track of where to go.
鐘楼堂 (つりがね堂) shohroh-doh (tsurigane-doh), or hanging bell tower… the sound of the bell wards off evil.
the 経堂kyodoh (sutra library)
an ema with an illustration of the famous pine tree and a prayer from a student to pass entrance exams for high school inside the kyodoh which is also known as the 絵馬堂emadoh where visitors hang up prayers written on wooden plates
the famous 遊龍の松Yuuryuu no Matsu, or “Gliding Dragon” pine tree, deemed 日本一の松Nippon-ichi no matsu (“Japan’s best pine tree”) and a 国の天然記念物kuni no tennen-kinenbutsu (national natural monument)…the base of the two-meter-tall, 40-meter-wide 600-year-old tree is to the right of the roof in the picture.
the shrine for the 幸福地蔵Kohfuku-Jizoh, the jizo who brings happiness, who invites us to pray for happiness for others than ourselves.
looking down from the Shaka-doh at the 鎮守社chinjusha (tutelary shrine for the local patron spirit), 宝篋印塔Hokyoin (sutra) pagoda and the kyodoh with the 桂昌院廟 Keishoin Shrine further back
stone wash basin
view of Kyoto
the 釈迦堂Shaka-doh where Gautama Buddha is enshrined
The view gets better the higher one goes up.
the 薬師堂Yakushi-doh which houses the wooden statue of 薬師如来Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of Healing
Keishoh-den, or Keisho Pavillion in honor of Keishoin
the pond in 蓮華寿院庭Rengejuin Garden
阿弥陀堂Amida-doh where the enshrined statue of the Jodo Buddha, Amida, is
going back to where we came from to head home
Mr. Man got our rosary beads at the gate that we came in before we headed out; while I waited for him, I read an article hung up in the rest area for visitors nearby about a truck driver who was saved from falling off a collapsed bridge by an お守りo-mamori (good-luck charm) he bought at Yoshimine; now many students who come to buy that good-luck charm, going by the name, “おちないお守りochinai o-mamori“, after the incident, so that they don’t fail important exams…”おちないochinai” means “to not fail (exam)” in Japanese.
Although I was physically tired from exploring the huge area that is Yoshimine, I went away satisfied and feeling that it was one of the most ideal visits to a temple that I’ve had in Japan.