Good morning, dear readers!
This is quite a LONG post!!
For your convenience, I broke this up into 3 Parts to make it easier to load & read through.
This is Part 2 of 3:
Yes! We made it!
|Many statues of Kannon line the pathway
Located at the edge of Himeji City, the mountain can be accessed in about 30 minutes from Himeji city center by bus or slightly quicker by taxi, before taking the Ropeway up.
Mount Shosha is also the site of Engyoji , an atmospheric temple complex with a history of over 1000 years.
Bell of Compassion
Jihi no Kane
|The Bell of Compassion
This is the Bell of Compassion – You are to greet Buddhist gods by ringing bells.
It’s believed that ringing this bell will make you happy.
Not too far from the bell, is the Niomon; the main gate.
The temple grounds inside the gate are sacred.
There were more than 30 sub-temples on the mountain at its zenith, and emperors and aristocrats once visited here.
Many existing buildings and Buddhist statues are appointed as cultural properties.
Engyoji Temple, once one of the three biggest training centers of the Tendai sect, is nestled on a peaceful mountain. Many buildings and statues are designated as Important Cultural Properties of Japan. Founded in 966 by Shoku, a holy Buddhist priest.
The temple is noted as a very important pilgrimage site.
Engyoji is a very prestigious temple of the Tendai sect.
Dubbed as “Mt. Hiei Enryakuji Temple of the west”, Engyoji Temple attracts pilgrims and tourists from all over the nation; throughout the year.
The precincts stretching across the top of Mt. Shosha – 371 meters high, present a tranquil atmosphere with numerous magnificent buildings such as the Maniden Temple and the Daikodo Lecture Hall surrounded by seasonal flowers and green trees.
One of 33 pilgrimage sites in western Japan, Engyoji attracts pilgrims from all over Japan. Pilgrims go to its main building, the Maniden, to have special scrolls stamped with the temple seal. Right here, a millennium ago, the visionary Priest Shoku saw a celestial being in a mountain cherry tree and was moved to carve a statue of Kannon; the Bodhisattva of Compassion.
He carved it out of the rooted tree and build a temple around it. Temple and statue were destroyed in a fire in 1921, but the Kannon statue currently, now in the rebuilt Maniden is carved of wood that was salvaged from the original tree used.
Passing beneath big trees that are hundreds of years old, you will come to a silent, open space surrounded by three buildings.
All these three buildings were built in the Muromachi period during the 15th century.
These buildings along the forest trails are the three massive wooden temple halls mentioned above, known as Mitsunodo.
Mitsunodo consists of three wooden temple halls: the Daikodo – main hall, Jikido – lodging and dining hall, now exhibiting temple treasures and Jogyodo – the gymnasium.
While walking through towering forests, you will see the Jikido, a unique structure that once served as lodgings for priests in training.
Jikido was constructed in 1174 at the request of the retired Emperor Goshirakawa to enshrine the God of Wisdom and Intellect. 40m-wide, two-storied building is unique for its architectural style.
|Stone lanterns, the backdrop for a scene in the film: “The Last Samurai”
Jikido, together with the Daikodo and Jogyodo, form an exotic three-sided courtyard.
This great auditorium was constructed in 986 A.D. at the request of the retired Emperor Kazan, who named this temple Engyoji at that time.
Daikodo was very famous as a training center for priests. This building is dedicated to the Incarnation of Truth.
The present building was dismantled and reconstructed in 1956.
This training hall is dedicated to Amitabha Buddha.
Trainees walk around the Amitabha statue here for days; calling out its holy name.
Ceremonial music and graceful dances were performed on the northern stage of this building opposite the great auditorium.
The building was remodeled and reconstructed in the year 1965.
The stage that fronts the Jogyodo, was built to give the Buddhist statue inside the Daikodo, directly opposite; the best views of performances.
A performance for the Gods.
Further up, you might also choose to continue on to Okunoin, where you may pay homage to Priest Shoku and stop for a moment of spiritual quiet.
Okunoin – which means: ‘inner sanctuary’, is beyond the three buildings of Mitsunodo.
More temple buildings and an observation point with nice views over the urban sprawl of Himeji, are located further, deeper inside the trail of the Okunoin area.
|A panorama view of Himeji below. The beautiful sight took my breath away!
Himeji, located on the Inland Sea, is built on a plain dotted with fourteen mountains and hills. From the observation point on Mount Shosha – Okunoin, make sure to take in the panorama of city and mountains, sea and islands.
Coming down the Gongen slope and passing over the Yuya Brigde you are facing “Maniden”, the main building.
The magnificent structure of Maniden, standing halfway up the rocky cliff, reminds visitors of the Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto.
All year round, pilgrims visit Maniden – the 27th location site of Western Japan pilgrimage.
This is a mini shrine, located right at the foot of the Maniden.
Temple lovers – I can almost confirm that you’ll love this place should you decide to pay a visit, someday!
Juryoin has the highest rank among the sub-temples, and records show the former Emperor Goshirakawa visited there.
Its outer appearance is built in the traditional Shinnden style, but the interior was designed in the Shoin style.
Quite a unique design compared to the other surrounding temples.
If the season is right, you can enjoy “Shojin Ryori, served on Edo period lacquerware, at the elegant subtemple of Juryoin.
(By special appointment only)
Sadly, this was mine. =(
(Hahaha, Just kidding!)
|One of the many different Kannon statues
Walking back to the Ropeway terminal, you can walk down the pathway; flanked by MANY different Kannon statues of 33 pilgrimage sites.
Kannon is also known as the Goddess of Mercy and she usually takes on many different forms.
The clear and solemn atmosphere surrounding is physically and spiritually refreshing.
In recent years, as is well known in Japan, the Hollywood movie ‘The Last Samurai’ was shot around the Shoshazan Engyoji compounds in 2003.
I fondly remembered that this area was one of the background footage used while filming the movie!
|This is the primary location that majority of “The Last Samurai”, was filmed
This is the primary location that majority of the movie was actually filmed.
Three great buildings Daikodo, Jikido, Jogyodo.
|Tom Cruise & Ken Watanabe were sitting side by side here!
Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe was sitting right here in the film!
Mount Shosha has gained some fame overseas by having served as a film location for this Hollywood movie.
Himeji has been known as a historic city, but the city isn’t all about its history.
Note to shoppers:
Restored department store Piole has finally opened thier doors. This is the place you want all your shops – under one roof!
There are also underground shopping and restaurants and also a large shopping street called Miyuki Street, nearby.
Himeji is one of my favourite cities to visit. I love the sense of history, both recent and ancient. It’s definitely a must-see place to enjoy the beautiful sights you’ll see at every corner, in every season!
While in Himeji, be sure to remember visiting other attractions such as Himeji Castle and Kokoen Garden.
Links below! 🙂
Now that brings us to the end of a this long post, which is why I’m broke this into 3 parts.
Part 1 can be found here!
Make sure you stay tuned to the final installation: Part 3!!
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