Words-and-Pictures: Ishiyamadera

Note: This selection of Words-and-Pictures was made on October 8, 2001, as I walked on the Old Tokaido.

Ishiyamadera is between Kusatsu in Shiga Prefecture (Station #53) and Kyoto, the southern end of the Old Tokaido Highway. You can read about my visit to Ishiyamadera in my Logbook.

Ishiyamadera is Temple #13 of the Saigoku Sanjusan Reijo--the 33 Temples in Kansai Sacred to Kannon, Goddess of Mercy.

I first visited here in November of 2000; I completed the pilgrimage little by little over a two-year period, finishing in Spring of this year (2001).

Here's the Sanmon or "mountain gate," also called a Niomon because it contains...

...the Nio or "two kings"...

... who were discussed more thoroughly in the Words and Pictures for Kasadera.

Ishi means "stone" (as in ishidatami); Ishiyamadera means "Stone Mountain Temple," so-called because of the presence of a rare rock called "Wollastonite"--so rare, in fact, that I never heard of it before. Behind the stones in this picture is a pagoda, discussed below. Notice that the autumn colors have begun to arrive.

This is Murasaki Shikibu, author of the world-renowned Tale of Genji, often considered to be the world's first novel. Tradition says she wrote part of it here. Presumably they didn't have to keep her behind chicken wire in those days.

The hondo or main hall is the oldest building in Shiga Prefecture, parts of it dating back more than 850 years. It was a real delight to pray here again, in a large dark hall open to views on two sides. The little fenced window in the foreground is where Lady Murasaki's dummy sits.

Here is the tahoto or "treasure pagoda" mentioned above. Built by Yoritomo Minamoto (Japan's first shogun) more than 750 years ago, it is said to be Japan's oldest. As such, it is featured on the 4-yen postage stamp.



Posted October 4, 2019

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