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塩地蔵

The other day as I was around Korakuen after finishing my errands, I visited Genkakuji, the temple known for Konnyaku-Enma. There are not so many fascinating Buddhism statues in Edo (Tokyo) but the Konnyaku-Enma which was made in Kamakura Era, is one of my favorite Enma Statues. This Enma’s right eye is cloudy. And it is said that there is a reason for it. Once upon a time, there was an old woman who suffered eye troubles. She visited this temple and made a wish to the Enma for her eye’s recovery. Then the Enma appeared in her dream and offered his eye to her. The next morning, her eye troubles were gone but she found out that the Enma’s eye became cloudy. In return, the old woman decided not to have her favorite Konnyaku for good, and offered it to the Enma. Since then, the Enma has been called the Konnyaku Enma. I love the Buddhist statues with such folklore. However, on this day that I had visited, it was hard to see the Enma from the outside. 

I felt a bit disappointed but while I was cooling myself in the temple grounds, I found Shio Jizos, or Salt Jizos. It is believed that when you put on salt on the jizo’s body parts, your pains in the same body parts go away. In this heat, the Jizos looked like they were buried in snowed mountains and their faces could not be seen either. Overwhelmed, I stepped back a little. I didn’t feel like putting more salt on them, and told myself that I should take care of myself. 

しばられ地蔵しばられ地蔵2

I came up to an idea to visit another Jizo statue in Myogadani. There is a Jizo called Shibarare-Jizo in Rinsenji. This jizo is much bound. If my memory is correct, I remember it had been bound by plastic strings and exposed to the sunny weather but now he is officially bound with ropes under the roof. Only its face can be seen peeping from the ropes. People binds it with a rope to make a wish and when it comes true, they wind off the rope. But the Jizo is bound with countless human desires. Can humans be this sadistic!? Looking at its face through the gap, I don’t see it seeming to be begging to be more bound. I felt a bit sorry for the jizo and cannot make my wish to it. So I told him in my heart that I will handle things on my own.

The Jizo musht have a lot of toil too.

But it might be that I may be the only one retaining sympathy when the jizo itself is standing there as if nothing had happened. 

Postscript: The Fudo of Hozenji in Osaka was fully covered in moss because it is watered day after day.

水かけ不動

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   The other day, I remembered that it was my brother’s birthday. He is 5 years older than I am. It was a bit daunting thinking about his age. Though I suppose he feels the same way about me too. I texted to him saying, “Happy birthday. Take care of yourself.” He replied, “Thank you. Time flies, don’t you think? I’m worn out, but let’s do our best while caring about our health.”

   We’re probably close to each other as siblings, but after my brother had married, we somewhat drifted away from each other. It makes me feel that a married brother is boring indeed. A while ago, suddenly I got a phone call from him during the night. I was unusually very tired that day and was already in bed to prepare for the next day, half-asleep when the phone had rang. I was seized with the desire to ignore it, but after having a second thought that it might be something bad, I answered. He just said in a dark voice: “Can I stay over at your place tonight?”

   I dragged out my heavy body out of bed, and waited for him after setting up his futon. When he got my place, he just said “Sorry about this”, and crawled into the futon. Oh, man! I wanted to question him but thought there must be some reasons, so I climbed into bed too without asking anything. 

029591   I recalled that he woke me up one midnight many years ago. We both lived with our parents at that time. One day, he was presented a stone statue of Jizo from his friend. It had a distinctive child-like face. It was this same night. 

   The knocking on the fusuma door of my room woke me up. Then, my brother came into my room dragging his futon, saying, “A ghost appeared! It did!” He started setting up his futon, asking me to let him sleep in my room. He told me that he was woken up by the sound of footsteps running around him. When he opened his eyes, a child looked over him and said, “Let’s play!” He was stunned and couldn’t move. Then, he found the child standing at the corner of his room. According to my brother, the child had bobbed-hair and was wearing a padded sleeveless kimono jacket. After the child imperceptibly disappeared, my brother became able to move. He told me he had taken refuge in my room out of fear. It scared me and I became unable to sleep. But my brother fell a sleep straight away and started snoring next to me. 

   The next day, I felt tired due to the lack of sleep but my brother looked good. String at the Jizo that came to our house the day before, he said that the child’s face looked exactly the same with Jizo’s, though he had bobbed-hair. The story buzzed through my family and we concluded that the Jizo had appeared in front of my brother as Zashiki-Warashi, a child spirit. It is said that Zashiki-Warashi brings luck to people who see it. Come to think of it, my brother’s job started going smoothly after the incident.

   I wondered why and was disappointed that the Zashiki-Warashi didn’t appeared in front of me. If his true identity was the Jizo, why did he appear with bobbed-hair?

   It was for the first time since Zashiki-Warashi’s appearance that my brother slept over at my room. Now, both of us live in Tokyo. My brother got married and has two children. Before I knew it, his older son became a high school student. Time flies indeed. Seeing my brother sitting hunched on futon the next morning, I realized how many years had indeed gone by. This was a good chunk of a middle-aged man sitting in front of me. He is my brother, but he also became a husband and father as time went by. Now he was a middle-aged man too. Looking at his profile unable to say anything, I saw a couple of weedy hair growing out of his ear. “You know what, you have ear hair,” I told him. “I don’t know why but they somehow grow,” he said rubbing his sleepy eyes.

   Why do ear hair grow? Like how the middle-aged man’s sneeze is so loud is unclear, it is the total mystery to me. 

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猿沢池

The other day, I saw Kohfukuj’s five-story stupa being introduced on TV. It is surely awesome, but don’t miss the frequently escaped third-story stupa. It is also the Kohfukuji’s oldest piece of architecture and a national treasure. It was build during the Kamakura Era with a Heian Architectural Style.

Kohfukuji is well-known for one of a Buddhist statues, Ashura, which became popular among girls a few years ago. Since then the popularity of Butsuzo girl or girls loving Buddhist statue, suddenly increased. It was then that as a contrary person, I distanced myself from Buddhist statue hopping. Thus, this was the first time in years to visit The Kohfukuji National Treasure Museum after a few years.

There are lots of wonderful Buddhist statues in the museum including the Buddhist head of Yamadadera which was on Japanese history textbook in my high school days, or The Tentoki, Ryutoki and so on. I could see from the Ashura’s position and the number of his souvenir products how strongly he was being advertised. Ashura is a graceful existence, a slender figure with three good-looking faces and six arms. Everything about him is attractive and he is a star indeed. However, I strongly recommend Karura or Garuda among the other dry lacquer statues of eight legions. Eight legions are Indian gods that are believed to have become guardians of Buddhism. 

顔が鳥だよ!?

He has a bird face!

Karura is a distinctive figure with the face of a bird and a human body. When Sentokun, the mascot character of Nara first appeared, some people criticized that growing deer’s horns from Buddha’s head seemed even blasphemous. Was it only myself that questioned whether they knew Karura had a bird face all along? When you visit The Kohfukuji National Treasure Museum, I would like you to pay attention to Karura. Having a scarf on and looking at an angle of about forty-five degrees left, he even looks like a model in catalogues or ads.

Don’t miss the statues of ten great disciples either, which are said to have been made at the same studio as the statues of eight legions.

Six disciples out of the ten are displayed at the museum. Among them is the statue of Subodai, or Subhuti in Hindi. But from its young face it is said that it may be Ananda. Though from its flat Japanese-looking face you may not see it as a handsome figure, but in fact, Ananda is well-known for being good-looking. I read it somewhere: Women believers would not really focus on Buddha’s preaching because they were distracted by Ananda’s beauty, so Buddha forbid Ananda from making eye contact with women. If he had been living today, he might have been called “The disciple too beautiful”. It is said that because he was such a good-looking man, he fell behind in achieving nirvana. He was literally too beautiful. I feel excited to imagine how good-looking he was, if his beauty was enough to throw him off track of life. It is even romantic for me. Maybe the most handsome actor on my list is nothing compared to Ananda.

When I see Kohfukuj’s five-story stupa from Sarusawa-ike Pond,I feel nostalgic and the story of Ananda comes to my mind. However, no matter how hard I try, I cannot imagine a man of great beauty, Ananda, because I become too exited and raise the bar too much. Oh man! 

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