Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ichijo-ji, Temple 26

Well, the first day of spring was sunny and only a little chilly, so I took to the road, with a brief stop to gather a traveling companion, and we set out for Ichijo-ji, the 26th temple of the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage.

I had forgotten everything I knew about pilgriming in the hiatus known as winter, so I missed out on a few of the offerings scattered around the temple grounds, and didn't conduct myself quite as protocol would have me do.

However, it was a pleasant day, and the things we did see were lovely, so I'll go over it nonetheless.

Ichijo-ji was situated in what felt like the middle of nowhere. It was possibly the first temple I have driven to on the pilgrimage, as the others have all been part of a larger trip or excursion (and even Engyo-ji, the closest one to my house, I biked to from Himeji station!). So we started from the parking lot, rather than the front gate, and that threw me off a bit.

The parking lot is right next to the Jizo-do, or the part of the temple dedicated to Jizo, who is the helper of babies who do not survive pregnancy. This Jizo-do was larger than ones I have seen at the other temples I've visited, and a little less austere as well. The one at Engyo-ji is rows and rows of little statues, all outfitted with knitted things or other accouterments, but these areas were full not only of statues with bibs and collars and knit things, but also toys, a few clothing items for babies, pinwheels, and other such dedications. There were three hexagonal sections like this.

From there, we wandered up the hill behind an Important Rock to what we realized was the Miko Daimyojin, the shinto (not Buddhist) area of the place. I found the Inari area, but did not see the statue or "Welcome Home" sign as described in the website. This side was very pretty in the dappled sunlight, and felt very peaceful, nature-y.

After that, we took a sort of side/back path that led us to the area where is found the Benten-Do. I totally wanted to put a coin in there and give a nod to a water deity of eloquence. I would be worried about it if I didn't think (currently) nah, it's cool, we hang out all the time so no big.

We continued on a back path that ran uphill parallel to the main temple (which was to the left). We found the path to the Okunoin roped off with a big sign in all kanji. Mir deftly convinced me that it was worth ignoring, and so I followed her up the slope toward the small founder's temple.

The reason for the sign was quite clear even from the path below. The whole area had been washed out, probably this past fall with all the rain in the Kansai area, and a landslide had washed a bunch of mud and rocks down around the Okunoin. I took some pictures of the sides of it, where you can see the mud marks. They have cleared around the small temple itself, but the path leading up to it is still in disarray, and the upper part of the mountain whence came the mud and rocks is pretty obvious.

From there we wound our way around to the main hall of the temple, from the back, where I failed to look up at the rafters and also was kind of plebian when I went to get my book stamped and calligraphed. We looked out over the Sanjuto and sighed with gladness that spring is finally coming, then made our way down to the front gate to head out. Ichijo-ji does not have a gate in the same way as other temples, but there was a not-blooming cherry by the entrance.

A badass old tree. 

Not my best exploration endeavor, but I'll do better next time now that I remember how it's done.

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