Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hell Temple

While in Osaka this past weekend reading for Four Stories, my friend and I visited an odd little temple called Senkouji in an area called Nakano.

Here's the sign that greeted us at the gate. It says, "If you tell a lie, I'll pull out your tongue."

Lovely.


Once inside the temple grounds this little fellow was there to direct us. Wanna go to the Land of the Buddhas or maybe Hell Hall?



The temple had a bunch of ojizo statues. All cute.





Although this one was a little unnerving. Someone had gone and scribbled in his eyes with pen.



Here's one of these.


My favorite place was The Land of Hotoke. Hotoke can mean Buddha, a Buddhist image, or a person after they've passed away. Didn't know what to expect here. The steps twisted and went underground.



The only light came from under this glass floor mandala. It was gorgeous and there was a little sign that said if you took off your shoes you could stand on it.


Land of the Buddhas was a circular room with three pillars that dripped a constant trickling of water -- it echoed fabulously. All around the walls were various Buddhist images. Somewhere I found a sign that said you could sit on the glowing mandala (directly in the center) and meditate. Which I really thought would be cool, except that anyone could sneak up on me from behind.



This place was great, too. Here we have Enma-O. There are ten judges you meet in the afterlife and Enma is the king and main judge--a nasty fellow. He is the one who passes judgement on those who have died, deciding whether he goes to heaven or one of the six hells/purgatories.


When you go into the small hall, Enma is facing you. Under him is a gong which you have to hit to announce your presence. This activates a small video screen to the right and a huge booming voice explaining where you are and asking if you've led a sinless life. For those who have not led perfect lives, it goes on to explain what awaits.

To the left are nine of the Kings (no picture, sorry). They are smallish brightly colored and dressed in Chinese style clothes. They pose no real threat.

To the right is Datsueba, a skinny old hag who waits at the river Styx and strips all new comers of their clothes (sometimes translated "skin"). Her partner, Ken-eo, then hangs the clothes on the leafless trees of the bank of the river and determines the weight of the person's sins by how low the branch bends under the clothing.

This is what Datsueba looks like:

Next to her stands a red oni/devil. He's got that pliers-looking thing (you see in the first picture), so that he can yank out the tongues of any liars, naysayers, the like.


There was also this, a rock with a hole in it. If you stick your head in you're supposed to be able to hear the sounds of hell. My buddy said she heard nothing. I refrained from inserting my noggin. I just had this bad feeling I'd hear a chorus of, "We're waiting for you~." Or something.



20 comments:

Victoria Dixon said...

Great photos, Thersa! Thanks for sharing. I visited a few places like this in China, too, but your pics make it feel much more menacing. Or maybe I want to feel menaced right now? LOL

Kappa no He said...

Victoria, it was menacing with a slightly "cutesy" undertone. I was surprised by the number of local visitors who were doing very serious, concentrated praying. Even people driving by on bicycles would stop, get off their bikes and bow before riding off.

Frank Baron said...

This is fascinating stuff, Terrie. It must be marvelous to live in a land so respectful of its rich religion/mythology/culture. It seems as vibrant today as ever. I'd love to see that mandala (and put my bare feet on it).

Thanks for the peek. It was a treat. :)

Kappa no He said...

Frank, I loved the mandala, and the echoing room. I've been to a lot of temples but it was the first time I'd seen something like that.

Woman in a Window said...

Friggen Yikes! AT first I was thinking how tranquil and lovely it all looked. Sitting center circle sounded soulful and then fricken yikes! I'd be scared straight if I believed. The power of any faith is in the belief, I suppose, and perhaps too often in the fear. Cool pictures though. I don't blame you for not putting your head in that stone.
xo
erin

Kappa no He said...

Erin, you hit the nail on the head. Some of the "lecture" from the devil judge was aimed for children (be good, mind your parents, stuff like that). I remember my mother threatening me with all sorts of far fetched things.

Girl Japan: April Marie said...

Oh my gosh.. WTF eh? lol How have you been? Is it getting scary.. I mean cold where you are? lol

Kappa no He said...

Hey girl! I need to update my link on my blogroll, I couldn't find you when I clicked on it. Starting to get chilly here. As long as the sun it out, it's okay. Sundown, burrrr!

Stephen Tremp said...

I always like to see photos from people's experiences around the world. Thanks for the grand tour.

Stephen Tremp

Gina said...

What a very cool place to visit. I'd like to go sometime. And I wouldn't have wanted to put my head inside the rock either. : )

Kappa no He said...

Stephen, thanks for stopping by!

Gina, I'm so glad everyone agrees with me about the rock. I was also thinking...spiders!

Hilary said...

Wow.. what a cool post. I love the photos and your description. I'd love to see that mandala too, and hear the sounds as you heard them (next time a video!). Fascinating and a tad scary. I'd probably get my head stuck in that stone...

Kappa no He said...

Hilary, ha! I never thought about getting my head stuck. But that's a funny thought. I did get a little video of the Enma talking and video. I'll see if I can get it up.

Mary Witzl said...

I feel like confessing every lie I've ever told after looking at that guy with the pliers! I've heard about that temple, but never managed to see it myself. Great way to encourage kids to tell the truth...

Kappa no He said...

Mary, they have a test/game that you can take to tell you how close you are into getting into heaven or the other place. I watched her take it, noted my own answers in my head, saw her get a "you're on your way to heaven" and then politely declined when she asked if I wanted to take it.

Jim Melvin said...

I'd love to meditate there!

Kappa no He said...

I wished they'd had like a little door with a sign you could turn over to let someone know you were down there. It would be perfect.

Anonymous said...

"You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie, not beause I am straighter that the rest of us, but simply because it appalls me. There is a taint of death, a flavor of mortality in lies -- which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world--what I want to forget."
imomomo - Conrad in Heart of Darkness.
Happy Thanksgiving!! Gobble, gobble

Anonymous said...

I keep trying to post what Conrad said in Heart of Darkness about lies, but it rejects my post. It's the "taint of death" passage.
Happy Turkey Day!
imomomo

Kappa no He said...

I haven't read Heart of Darkness is a few years. Need to pick it back up. Thanks for the reminder! Did you have a bird? I'm hoping to get one for Christmas.