Friday, March 18, 2011
There's nothing like a disaster - or an ongoing rash of 'em - to make you appreciate what you have and where you are.
In my case where I am is Tokyo, and this is one of my fave temples, a sprawling and (mostly) unknown treasure called Kuhonbutsu Temple (九品仏浄真寺), located near the appropriately named Kohonbutsu Station, two stops from us on the Oimachi Line.
It's about 20 minutes from Shibuya, but there's a world of distance between the two places.
Kuhonbutsu is also sandwiched between Futako-Tamagawa — rated the fourth most popular place to raise children in Tokyo — and Jiyugaoka... the fourth most preferable place to live single, footloose and fancy-free.
Aside from this odd sense of spiritual displacement on either side, that which sets this consecrated turf apart from the other local shrines and temples in this city is the sheer size and spaciousness of the sanctuary, as well as three wonderfully renovated, historic main halls that house a set of nine massive statues of Buddha, captured for posterity in subtly different poses.
These affectations are s'posed to have some special meaning, though I haven't any idea quite what these may be and haven't bothered to check the significance out online.
It's like Madonna, circa 1989, if she were tastefully cast in bronze.
According to the brochure Kuhonbutsu Temple was constructed several hundred years ago on the grounds of the old Okusawa Castle, and sections of these aged foundations can still be discovered if you look hard enough.
The stand-out is the photogenic bell tower (sho-ro), built in 1708, roofed in copper and adorned by a huge clapper that was cast in honour of the two great bodhisattvas (Kannon and Seishi) - fittingly designated a national cultural treasure.
I went here again two days ago, just to breathe in the silence and tranquility away from the non-stop newscasts about aftershocks and radiation, and it was genuinely moving. Funny that. I'm normally so easily moved.
Man, I love this city.