Lately, I’ve been reminiscing on old visits I made to Japan, since I haven’t been there in about two years (and with vaccination rollout being slow, I probably won’t visit this year either). It started when I showed the kids some old photos, and that’s when I decided it would be fun to share with the blog too. These are often old photos, and details and layout are kind of fuzzy now to me, so I might get some things wrong. But, I hope you enjoy!
In any case, my first trip to Japan was way back in January 2005 shortly after my wife and I got married, and we went to visit her family, and see take a tour of Japan. The first Buddhist temple I visited was the venerable Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺), a very old temple of the once-powerful Hossō (Yogacara) sect in Kyoto, Japan. This is the front entrance as I recall it:
The highlight of Kiyomizudera, is it’s famous drop-off. Wikipedia has a much better photo than the one I took:
Here’s touristy, newlywed me at the drop-off.
It’s pretty far to the bottom of the temple complex, as you can see:
As this was January, Japan was pretty cold (definitely colder than the PNW where I live), and cloudy, but somehow I got this nice sunbeam photo.
The main Buddhist deity of worship at Kiyomizu-dera is the Bodhisattva Kannon. The English language page for Kannon has a very nice overview and well worth a read if you’re curious to learn more. At that time, I wasn’t clear who Kannon was, but I took this photo of a small wood-carving in the ceiling. I believe this is Kannon depicted with 1,000 arms, a common motif to express the many ways and efforts that Kannon does to assist all living beings.
Personally, even after 16 years, I still like this photo very much, and for a variety of reasons, I’ve felt a connection to the Bodhisattva Kannon through most of my adult Buddhist life, even when I didn’t always pay attention to it. Even now, this photo kind of brings me some warm fuzzies even if the quality was terrible.
Anyhow, Kiyomizudera is a temple that I would very much like to visit again next time I ever go to Kyoto. Knowing what i know now about Japanese Buddhism, I feel like I’d get a lot more out of it than I would have at the time. Like many of the old Japanese-Buddhist temples, there’s layers of history and meaning that are not readily obvious, but many treasures await those willing to explore.
P.S. I have a few other photos besides this, but editing out family members and in-laws is just too hard with would negatively impact the photos. All the more reason to just go again sometime. 😀