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."


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.