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”Nanzenji” Japan’s Beauty Revived

Japan’s Beauty Revived

Rinzaishu Daihonzan Nanzenji
Nanzenji, Fukuchicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto

Zen Temple Where People Gather

”Nanzenji” was founded by Emperor Kameyama in 1291 and is the very first Zen temple officially recognized by the Japanese imperial household. Under the rule of Emperor Godaigo, he designated Nanzenji as the first Zen temple of the five Zen temples of Kyoto. In the Muromachi period, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu redefined the terms for ”five temples” yet named Nanzenji as a temple that stands over the top five. This has continued to this day and Nanzenji is still considered important as a Zen temple in Kyoto. Nanzenji is visited by numerous tourists for its beauty. First is the beautiful scenery of the mountain from the corridors of the temple. With each season with its own attractiveness Higashiyama is loved for its scenery especially for the cherry blossoms in Spring and the coloring of the leaves in Autumn. Another attraction is the ”Hojo” garden also referred to as the ”Tora-no-Ko Watashi-no-Niwa” (mother tiger crossing the tiger cubs across the garden) It is a dry landscape garden, expressing water with sand, pebbles and pine. There is also the ”Water drinking Tiger” a fusuma painting, said to be works of Kano Tanyu.

Receiving History and Awe to be Handed Down

”Sanzenbutsu Myougo shoshagyo”” was being prepared for the 2012 ”Soken Nan-in kokushi 700 nen Daionki jukaie”(700th anniversary of founding) when we were visiting. ”Sanzenbutsu Myougo Shoshagyo” is transcribing down the names of all Buddha, 1,000 names each from the past, present and future on paper. When complete, there will be in total 3,000 Buddha names written out, creating a scroll. In Buddhist terms, ”3,000” refers to ”infinity” and infers to all worldly things. By feeling gratitude to all 3,000 Buddha is equivalent to paying respects to all things in the world. On this day, Nakata was able to add some names to an incomplete scroll. Nanzenji has a history of over 700 years. In 2012 (year Heisei 24) the completed ”Sanzenbutsu Myougo Shoshagyo” will be hung by the main hall. Another page in history will be added with its beautiful garden. (* This interview was conducted in 2010)


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