6/02/2009

Temple Saihoji

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Temple Saihoji ,
"Temple in the Western Direction"

Saihoo-Ji 西方寺 in Nagano
長野県長野市西町1019 
安養山極楽院西方寺 

. . . CLICK here for Photos !

This temple is in West Village, a suburb of Nagano Town, and situated in the West of the town, hence the name, Tempel to the West. It is also situated to the west of the famous Zenko-Ji temple in Nagano. The West is the region of the Pure Land of Paradise.

The temple belongs to the Pure Land sect and is closely related to Honen Shonin.
Issa used to visit his friend Takizawa 滝沢柯尺(松屋八郎次・松八), who lived in a small street close by this temple.


The stamp of this temple carries a haiku by Kobayashi Issa.

CLICK for original LINK to Japanese

散る花や 月入る方は 西方寺
chiru hana ya tsuki-iru hoo wa Saihoo-ji

cherry blossoms scatter -
in the direction of the moon
is temple Saihoo-Ji

Tr. Gabi Greve


A memorial stone with this haiku by Kobayashi Issa in in the precincts of this temple.

source : www.saihouji-nagano.com

and this is another haiku by Issa composed here:

迹臼は烏(からす)のもちや西方寺
ato usu wa karasu no mochi ya Saihoo-Ji

(see below)

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There is also a Saiho-Ji in Kyoto.

Saihoji Moss temple(Koke dera)
56, Matsuojingatani, Nishikyou-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu

CLICK for more information
It is said that Saihoji temple was opened by Gyoki during the Nara period and was restored by inviting Muso Soseki in 1339. Because of the beautiful moss that covers the land in the garden, it is called the "Moss Temple".
The garden designed by Muso Soseki has two levels, the upper Karesansui (rock garden) and the lower level of the circuit style garden with a pond and a path around it. The golden pond at the centre of the garden is in the shape of the Chinese charater for a “heart” or”mind” (kokoro), and the garden is covered in approximately 120 types of moss, so that it looks like a green carpet has been laid out. To the south of the golden pond stands the tea-house called Shonan-tei which is designated as important cultural property.
source : www.japan-i.jp/explorejapan


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Another temple Saihoji in Shikoku, made famous
by Lafcadio Hearn



UBAZAKURA 姥桜

Three hundred years ago, in the village called Asamimura, in the district called Onsengori, in the province of Iyo (Shikoku), there lived a good man named Tokubei. This Tokubei was the richest person in the district, and the muraosa, or headman, of the village. In most matters he was fortunate; but he reached the age of forty without knowing the happiness of becoming a father. Therefore he and his wife, in the affliction of their childlessness, addressed many prayers to the divinity Fudo Myo O, who had a famous temple, called Saihoji, in Asamimura.

At last their prayers were heard: the wife of Tokubei gave birth to a daughter. The child was very pretty; and she received the name of Tsuyu. As the mother's milk was deficient, a milk-nurse, called O-Sode, was hired for the little one.

O-Tsuyu grew up to be a very beautiful girl; but at the age of fifteen she fell sick, and the doctors thought that she was going to die. In that time the nurse O-Sode, who loved O-Tsuyu with a real mother's love, went to the temple Saihoji, and fervently prayed to Fudo-Sama on behalf of the girl. Every day, for twenty-one days, she went to the temple and prayed; and at the end of that time, O-Tsuyu suddenly and completely recovered.

Then there was great rejoicing in the house of Tokubei; and he gave a feast to all his friends in celebration of the happy event. But on the night of the feast the nurse O-Sode was suddenly taken ill; and on the following morning, the doctor, who had been summoned to attend her, announced that she was dying.

Then the family, in great sorrow, gathered about her bed, to bid her farewell. But she said to them:--

"It is time that I should tell you something which you do not know. My prayer has been heard. I besought Fudo-Sama that I might be permitted to die in the place of O-Tsuyu; and this great favor has been granted me. Therefore you must not grieve about my death... But I have one request to make.
I promised Fudo-Sama that I would have a cherry-tree planted in the garden of Saihoji,
for a thank-offering and a commemoration. Now I shall not be able myself to plant the tree there: so I must beg that you will fulfill that vow for me... Good-bye, dear friends; and remember that I was happy to die for O-Tsuyu's sake."

After the funeral of O-Sode, a young cherry-tree,-- the finest that could be found,-- was planted in the garden of Saihoji by the parents of O-Tsuyu. The tree grew and flourished; and on the sixteenth day of the second month of the following year,-- the anniversary of O-Sode's death,-- it blossomed in a wonderful way. So it continued to blossom for two hundred and fifty-four years,-- always upon the sixteenth day of the second month; -- and its flowers, pink and white, were like the nipples of a woman's breasts, bedewed with milk. And the people called it Ubazakura, the Cherry-tree of the Milk-Nurse.
source : bulfinch.englishatheist.org

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Among the haiku memorial stones in Matsuyama, there are also two in the precincts of a temple called Saihoji.
(spelled with different Chinese characters, meaning "Temple of the Western Law"
Saihouji Temple in Idai, opened in 792 (Enryaku 11), is a temple of the Tendai sect
伊台の西法寺
Source : Haiku Monuments in Matsuyama


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H A I K U


跡臼は烏のもちか西方寺
ato usu wa karasu no mochi ka Saihooji

is the next batch of rice cakes
for the crow?
Saiho Temple


Kobayashi Issa
Shinji Ogawa notes that ato usu means "the next batch of rice cakes" (not, as I originally thought, the "tub in back").
In an dated version of this haiku (1813), Issa makes a statement instead of a question: "The next batch of rice cakes is for the crow" (ato usu wa karasu no mochi ya).
There are two types of usu or mill: (1) shiki usu (grinding hand-mill) and (2) a large wooden tub used for rice or herb cake making. The cake maker pounds the ingredients with a wooden mallet. The second definition fits here.

(Tr. David Lanoue)



is the next batch
from the mortar for the crows?
temple Saiho-Ji

Tr. Gabi Greve


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4 comments:

sakuo said...

西方寺について沢山の蘊蓄を頂き有難うございました。
ガビさんのgallaryも大変充実してきましたね。
日本文化の大体の事はそろってきました。
大変なお仕事だと尊敬しています。
今後もおつずけ下さい。

中村作雄

Gabi Greve said...

Thank you very much for visiting, Sakuo san !
I appreciate your kind words and will carry on with my pilgrimage through virtual Japan.

Gabi from a rainy morning in Okayama.

Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

跡臼は烏のもちや西方寺
ato usu wa karasu no mochi ya saihôji / saihouji

the last big rice cake
at Saihoji Temple
is for the crows

This hokku is from the intercalary lunar eleventh month (December) of 1813, the first year Issa was able to live in his half of his father's house in his hometown. Issa sometimes visited Saihoji ("Western Pure Land") Temple, located not far from his hometown, and a small stone monument with this hokku carved on it now stands in the precincts of the temple. In one of his haibun works Issa refers to the temple as being located to the west of his beloved Zenkoji Temple, a placement that is appropriate for a temple that, while existing in the visible world, is very close spiritually to the Pure Land paradise. The temple belongs to the Pure Land school founded by Honen, and its name, Western Pure Land Temple, refers to the belief that Amida Buddha's Pure Land lies far to the west beyond the setting sun.

In the hokku several monks, perhaps together with some parishioners, have been pounding masses of steamed rice with large wooden mallets in a wooden mortar until the dough-like mashed rice is soft and sticky enough to be kneaded and formed into large round rice cakes to be offered to Amida Buddha at New Year's. The outdoor rice-pounding ceremony seems to have excited some crows who like to gather at the temple, and in the spirit of the coming new year the monks offer the last big rice cake to the crows, who right about now may be feeling they are truly in paradise.

* Note 2 in Issa's Collected Works 3.278 needs to be corrected.

Chris Drake
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Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Ubazakura うば桜 / 姥桜 Cherry-tree of the Milk-Nurse

original at the temple
Taihoji 大宝寺 Taiho-Ji

in Matsuyama, Ehime.