Thursday, May 7, 2015

2015 Japan Cherry Blossom Trip 09: The First Stop of Saikoku Pilgrimage, Nachi Seiganto Temple

Nachi Seiganto Temple is just beside Nachi Grand Shrine. The co-existence of Shinto religion and Buddhism is totally reflected here.

Hondo (the main temple) of Seiganto Temple was built in 1590. It is the oldest architecture in Kumano area and listed as World Cultural Heritage Site in 2004.

Seiganto-ji, literally means the Temple of Blue Waves, is a Tendai  (an important school of Buddhism) temple, where Nyoirin Kannon is venerated. It was the first stop of Saikoku Pilgrimage, or the first sacred site of Saikoku Sanjyusan-sho (the 33 Saikoku's site).

Saikoku Sanjyusan-sho refers to 33 Kannon-belief temples in Kansai region. These temples represent 33 incarnations of Avalokitesvara in 'Lotus Sutra'. Peoples in ancient times completed the Saikoku Pilgrimage by visiting all 33 temples. Seiganto Temple is the first destination of this pilgrimage.

During the reign of Emperor Nintoku (313 - 399), Ragyo Shonin, a monk from India came to Kumano and built a hermitage here. During the reign of Empress Suiko (593 - 628), Shobutsu Shonin, who came from Yamato, carved the current 4-meter height Nyoirin Kannon statue from a single piece of camellia tree. Ragyo Shonin realized that the statue is incarnation of Nyoirin Kannon, therefore the hondo (main temple) was built to enshrine the Kannon.

After that, Empress Suiko granted Seiganto Temple as National Temple. During Hei'an Period, Emperor Kazan (the 65th Emperor) built a small temple close to the Nachi Fall and completed his 3-year-spiritual training there. After completion, he started the Saikoku Pilgrimage from this temple.

Seiganto Temple was called Nachizan Nyoirin-to in the past. The name is changed to current Seiganto-ji during the separation of Shinto from Buddhism in Meiji Period. The current building is built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1590 with the architecture in Momoyama Period.

The censor in front of Hondo, the incense is called senko, which is shorter than Chinese's incense.
Saikoku Dai'ichiban Goeika (The first imperial poetry of Saikoku). The beauty of each temple of Saikoku Sanjyusan-sho was praised by a piece of imperial poetry
「補陀洛(ふだらく)や 岸うつ波は 三熊野(みくまの)の 那智のお山に ひびく滝津瀬(たきつせ)」

Translation:Horizon of the ocean where Hudaraku (name of a mountain in India where Avalokitesvara appears) is located, under this Mt. Nachi of the Three Kumano Mountains, the water falls freely to the bottom

Hokyoin-to (宝篋印塔, Japanese Pagoda), built in 1322.

Bonsho (梵鐘, Buddhist Bell), built in 1324.

This path leads to Nachi Highland

It was noon time when we reached here, so we did not plan to go Nachi Highland. On the way to downhill, there is a tea house and washroom. This was the ice-cream that I bought from the tea house. It's brown sugar flavour and quite tasty.

Sanjyu-no-tou (三重塔, Three-storied pagoda)

After visited these tombs, on the way to downhill, there is a signage remind the visitors not littering from vehicles. The reminder came with another sentence "Those who litter are not qualified to use this road". I had never seen such kind of strong reminder except here.

Sanjyu-no-to is located just after a turn. The view of Mt. Nachi and Nachi Fall could be enjoyed from the tower.


Enjoy the Beauty of Nachi at the Top of Sanjyu-no-to

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