Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple化野念仏寺 is a Buddhist temple situated on a hill in the 嵯峨Saga area of 右京区Ukyo Ward. A temple originally founded by 空海Kukai, founder of 真言宗Shingon Buddhism, it is said that 法然Hounen, founder of 浄土宗Jodo Buddhism, altered it to the temple it is today. The area was a site during the 平安時代Heian Period and 江戸時代Edo Period where dead bodies of the poor without family were left to the elements; in the area called 西院の河原Saiin no Kawara, about 8000 roughly carved Buddha statues and towers stand in memory of the souls who couldn’t get a proper burial.
Mr. Man and I went to Adashino Nenbutsu-ji in mid-April 2009 when cherry blossoms were in full bloom while participating on the 数珠巡礼Juzu Junrei (Rosary Pilgrimage) (it was on the list for the pilgrimage). We walked from the 嵐山Arashiyama area, a pleasant 30-minute walk on a small path through lovely neighborhoods with charming shops and facilities sprinkled in, one of my favorite areas in Japan.
the stairs up to the temple
the path upon entering after paying to go in
the front of the 仏舎利塔bussharitou where bones are buried
the 鳥居gate to the main area
cherry blossoms in front of the 朱印受付office of the temple where one can purchase red seals (and where we got our rosary beads)
the main hall, built in 1712, containing a medieval sculpture of 阿弥陀如来Amida Buddha
looking at 西院の河原 Saiin no Kawara from in front of the main hall…Saiin no Kawara also represents 三途川Sanzu no Kawa, the Japanese version of the Western River Styx
on the wall: “Don’t scold children; that’s the road from which we came. Don’t laugh at the elderly; that’s the road to which we’re headed.”
Next to the 朱印受付 is the 季遊の間Kiyu no Ma where one can enjoy displays of flowers and anything representing the current season.
the bell that many visitors rang before going among the stone monuments and statues
The visitors put their hands together in prayer at the entrance (as in the picture above) and walked around in respectful silence. It seemed no pictures were allowed to be taken in this area.
a path through a 竹林bamboo forest…
that leads one to more graves in another area of the temple grounds
visitors cleansing the heads of Buddhist gods
While walking back to the main area, I noticed this low wall; it reminded me of a long dragon’s back.☺
A fascinating statue… what could this monk taking a nap tied up represent?
cherry blossom petal showers due to the breeze
A profound temple visit which would have been a bit somber had it not been such a beautiful day during cherry blossom season…I had the pleasure of visiting again in late June 2012 with Laurel, Gillian and Barron on a cloudy day, so I got that somber aspect, too. Definitely a temple I’d want to visit again.