Onomichi Coastal Town



Daruma Pilgrim Gallery


Onomichi, a costal town with many temples
尾道 ‐ お寺参り

Onomichi is a small costal town in Western Japan with a long history.

“You can feel history in the air when you walk the streets of Onomichi, where the folklore and traditions of old Japan live on. In addition, the carefully preserved Buddhist temples give visitors to Japan a real taste of traditional Japanese culture.”

Joodo-Ji、Temple of the Pure Land Paradise 浄土寺

We visited there on May 2004, and by a stroke of good luck and timing even met with a “real life Daruma”.
At the temple of the Pure Land, Joodo-Ji we were greeted by a really round, small priest with a broad smile and such a friendly way, encouraging us to come in before he even knew we could communicate in Japanese. Anywhay, when he came out with one sandal in his hand, I had my clue: This must be Daruma san.

(Bypass: Why would Daruma san wear one sandal? ) Check it out here:
Daruma with One Sandal

It is believed that Prince Shotoku (574-622 AD) founded this temple in 616. This temple is also famous for its connection with Shogun Takauji Ashikaga (1305 – 1358) .It is called a treasure house of cultural assets. The main hall and the two-storied pagoda are designated as national treasures, the gate and Amida hall as important cultural assets.

Anyway, our Daruma guide opened the door to the famous garden with a thatched tea house on a small hill behind azaleas in full bloom, stone boulders and lanterns of various sizes, quietude all around. It is one of these Pure Land Paradise Gardens where you sit on the veranda and just BE for a while.

Most of the rooms have famous paintings on the sliding doors, which our Daruma guide explained in all details, as if he had painted them himself. He walked us to the place on the veranda from where to take the best pictures inside and even let me pass a hidden gate to get a better shot at one of the wooden panel doors with a painting of cherry trees.

Get an impression here.

By the way, there are two stories in my Daruma Homepage about these kinds of paintings on walls and sliding doors:
Fusuma and Daruma
Byoobu and Daruma

Our guide then gave us a special treat in the Amida Hall. There is a precious carving pattern between the walls and the ceiling, about 30 cm in height and painted white in the background, green on the protruding parts and red on the carved sides, so while you walk along the color changes and – whow – even the pattern changes from round to square and back to round.

Our Daruma san then grinned even more, closed the doors, turned off the electric light, put us in the right spot to watch and then said: “Timeslip back to when no electricity was available”. He opened the door just a little (“this is a rainy day”) to show this magic pattern, in red and round, then opened the door more (“now we have a sunny day”) and – whow – again, from the same spot the pattern changed to green and square, just by adding some more light to the room!
This famous pattern is called 卍崩しの組子(まんじくずしのくみこ)Manji-Kuzushi no Kumiko.

Manji is the Japanese name for the Svastika symbol, here carved in manyfold artistic variations. This pattern shows the Greek and Indian influence in early Buddhist Art and its most famous representative is found at the temple Hooryuu-ji, Nara.

Have a look at more pictures of the temple here:

At this temple there are sometimes performances of the famous No-Theater outside in the evening.
Here is a spectacular LINK to this event, called “Takagi No”, No performance whilst burning fire. One picture of the Pagoda at Night is really inspiring.
Takagi Noh Performance

It was hard to leave this quiet temple, so full of historical atmosphere. I felt as if all the batteries had been recharged with positive energy.


Senkoo-Ji, The temple of a thousand light beams 千光寺

This is the symbol temple of Onomichi, located on a rocky hill above the city and easily reached by a 3 minutes ride with a ropeway.

Well, there was a stall selling talismans and good luck charms, one with our Daruma to help pass an examination and one with a small plastic Daruma, his eyes falling out (me ga deru), a play on words meaning to have good luck.

Jorenji Temple

The rocks and old pines bend by storm and clutching to the ground, quite a phantastic sight! Many rocks have special names, resembling something of the human world, but it seemed to me the rocks would better speak for themselves.
The temple has a completely different atmosphere than our quiet morning visit.

Sitting on a rock overlooking the city and the many islands scattered around in the Seto Inland See makes you wonder how much more impressive it must have been without all electricity poles, shipbuilding heavy mashinery and noisy trains passing by below.

Walking down the mountain the “Path of Literature”, there are huge boulders with poems engraved.

When Masaoka Shiki, the famous Haiku poet, passed here he made the following KU, which is carved in stone, see above:

nodokasa ya / koyama tsuzuki ni / too futatsu

What rural serenity!
rows of small mounains
and two pagodas

The NODOKASA part seems to be lost these days by busy bustling modern life below.

Here are some LINKS to see pictures of the temple and scenery:


Some LINKS for the historically minded:

The famous Shoogun Ashikaga Takauji is a familiar figure since my own “Kamakura Period”. He founded the Ashikaga Shogunate with Kamakura as its headquaters.

Prince Shootoku (Shotoku Taishi) introduced Buddhism to Japan and is a very important figure in Japanese history. If you have red the story mentioned above about Daruma and his one sandal, you have met him already. Here is more historic background.

My Onomichi PHOTO album !!!!!


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