Friday, March 18, 2011

Kuhonbutsu Temple


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.

3 comments:

Japan Australia said...

It is a great looking temple and a place when you visit you feel like you are miles away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

Japan Australia

What's the plot, anyway? said...

That's so true, mate.

Lizu-san said...

In trying to locate a college friend who I think still lives in Kuhombutsu, I found your blog and the fantastic pictures. I really felt joy just soar through me!! You see, I lived in Kuhombutsu with a Japanese family from 1967-1969. The pictures of the temple brought back so many memories. I use to walk back there, just a stone's through from "my" house to wander peacefully in the silent wonders of those huge Buddhas. At that time, the temple and grounds were not what they appear in your photos. It seemed almost forgotten with the Buddhas rather dusty and the cemetary overgrown with tall grasses. I knew that most Japanese cemetaries were made of dirt paths and well kept grave stones, but Kuhombutsu's grave stones still fascinated me. Anyway, I wandered the temple grounds many times to just feel the air there that seemed filled with quiet stories waiting to be told of life at the temple since the late 1600's. I am thrilled to have found this blog. I will do my best to locate your site again to catch up on additional comments! I have been hoping to travel back to Japan once again. It is on my bucket list. (I always heard the temple and area around the train station pronounced with an "m" in KuhoMbutsu, but I see it spelled with an "N" on line. But if you inhance the photo of the train station you will see the Romaji spelling......n or m ?