Nison-in Temple

(二尊院)
#arashiyama #nisonin

The Two Revered Images Temple

Nison-in was waiting for me. I had heard that this Temple was special. It has something different from the rest of the Temples in Arashiyama area. It is easy to recognize thanks to its huge door close to two souvenirs shops. You pay the entrance ticket, and get a map and an envelope with some kind of post postcard in it.

Inside this envelope you can see a picture of the special feature of the temple. Normally inside the main hall of a temple, there is only one image of Buddha. But at Nison-in, you have two, only distinguished by the shape of their fingers.

The right one is Shaka that takes those people who have died from this life to the afterlife, and the left one is Amida that welcomes them in the Pure Land or Buddhist heaven.

The original temple started to be built in 834 and was completed in 847 during the years of Emperor Saga, but due to the civil war in Kyoto it was burned to the ground. After the war it was rebuilt by Priest Honen and became an important place inside the temples in Japan until the capital was shifted to Tokyo. We can see the importance of this temple in its cemetery where a lot of nobles were buried.



The cemetery has different levels all connected with each other. If you like traditional Buddhism cemeteries, this is a good place to go. But inside this burial ground, there is one individual that deserves a mention.
It is Suminokura Ryoi (角倉了以:1554-1614). He was one of many other merchants who prospered at the beginning of the Edo period. He became famous thanks to his business overseas, getting closer to the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu(徳川家康) becomming one of his advisors.
I could find his statue close to the main hall at the right part of it. I had heard that inside of the Nison-in Temple I could find the graves of the Suminokura family. So I decided to start my search for them, it took quite a lot to find them, but I had a great time looking all around the graveyard. You could easily see the social status by the gravestone. After going downstairs and upstairs around the cementery I was able to find them, he was separated from all the members of his family members in a special decorated place.

The temple's Bell or the Happiness Bell is right behind the statue of Suminokura Ryoi. The information is written only in Japanese, but don't worry. You only have to put a little donation grab the rope and hit the bell with the wooden bell hammer. Let the sound fill out the temple. If you are lucky you will hear another visitor making the bell sound. The first time I went to Nison-in, I could hear that beautiful sound as I went up to the temple Main Hall.
This year I will go back and see the temple during the Japanese maple season. I hope to see you all taking pictures of the Japanese maples in this amazing temple. Don't forget to hit the Happines Bell!


Photo & Report: Javier Azaña