Keihanshin (京阪神) Episode 12: The spectacular Kiyomizudera Temple (清水寺) – Part 1/2

My next destination after Ginkakuji Temple and Philosopher’s Walk is Kiyomizudera Temple (清水寺), Japanese National Treasure (國寶) and UNESCO World Heritage.

Upon reaching the temple, there is a magnificent gate called Niōmon Gate (仁王門). It has two wooden warriors inside the two posts of the gate itself. The two warriors called Niō, and they are called Heng Ha Er Jiang (哼哈二将) in China. Their duty is to guard the Buddhist temple.

There are two stone lion in front the gate called Komainu (狛犬). They are lion-dog creature used to guard the entrance of shrine or temple in Japan. The one with open mouth is pronouncing the first Sanskrit alphabet “a”, which symbolized birth. The other one is closed-mouth pronouncing the last Sanskrit alphabet “um”, which symbolized death. Together they form the sound “Aum”, a sacred word in Hinduism and Buddhism. However, the two Komainu at Kiyomizudera have both their mouth opened!

During New Year Eve, people will come here to hit the bell. Up to 2007, the bell is still the ancient bell built in 1478, but was replaced by a new one after 2008 due to wear and tear. Contrary to the common 4-pillars building, this one is using 6 pillars to support the 2-ton giant bell.

The Pagoda nearby housed the Buddha Relics and the building representing the teaching of Buddha. Built in 1632, but was rebuilt in 1987. The Pagoda is not open for public.

There is a temple called Zuigudo (随求堂), worshiping The Daizuigu Bosatsu (大隨求菩薩), that fulfilling the wishes of mortal.

There is something very interesting about this temple. There is a basement at the left-hand side of the building, called Womb of Zuigu Bosatsu (胎内めぐり). The guard will give you a bag to put in your shoes.

Upon entering the basement (womb of Bosatsu), you will need to walk through a narrow corridor with COMPLETE darkness, so that there will be no place for your attachment. The only thing that can guard you through the journey is the Buddhist beads along the corridor. You will feel a world without distraction from sight and senses that corrupting our pure mind (無眼界乃至無意識界). After a while, you will see a big round lit stone with a Sanskrit character “hara”. Make a wish there and turn the stone and you can exit the basement with a sense of rebirth with the virtue of Zuigu Bosatsu.

No photograph inside, but the character of the Sanskrit character “hara” look like the following.

The womb of Zuigu Bosatsu is a must try spiritual experience, but do not mistaken that this is just another haunted house in the theme park or shout and yell inside.

That’s all for part one, the next post will be the main hall of the Kiyomizudera temple.


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