Seiryo-ji Temple - Saga Shaka-do Temple
(清凉寺 - 嵯峨釈迦堂)
#seiryoji #sagano #pureland
When you get to Arashiyama in Kyoto, the crowd of thousands of other excited visitors will naturally swallow you and take you first to the nearest places around the station. But it would be a big mistake to finish your tour just like that, without seeing places that are not so much at hand.
There are so many places in Arashiyama area that even one day is not enough to visit them all if you want to check them properly. Try to “break free” as soon as possible and go to find Seiryo-ji Temple. This temple of Pure Land Buddhism is not crowded at all. It has a very impressive massive gate that is impossible to miss. You can see it in the far distance calling on you to come and enter. And it is really hard to resist.
When you get to the temple´s yard the huge Main Hall will appear in front of you making a strong impression. It is dedicated to Gautama Buddha (Shaka-nyorai). His hidden statue is one of the national treasures of Japan. Although you are not allowed to see it, the feeling of his presence will follow you while wandering around the gardens and exploring additional buildings around. There is no rush and the place is ideal for taking some rest after that “rat race” you have probably been through.
It was very nice to enjoy some green tea with Aburi-mochi (あぶり餅) - Roasted Rice Cakes ? sitting under blooming plum-trees. But the thing I have probably enjoyed the most was the Scripture House with the complete Buddhist scriptures Issaikyozo (一切経蔵) inside of revolving sutra cabinet Rinzo (輪蔵). It basically means 5408 scrolls of sutra.
It is a relatively small building on the east side of the temple´s precincts. At the front, you can see the sculpture of Fu Daishi (a Chinese Buddhist from the 6th century) with his sons on both sides, also known as Warai Hotoke (笑い仏) or Laughing Buddha. I paid 100Yen to enter the place. There was something huge in the middle of the room. Actually, it was the revolving sutra cabinet and I understood that I was supposed to rotate it. I vigorously started to do so and after rotating it four or five times I felt that I had enough and stopped. I checked the rest of the room and wanted to leave. At the entrance, I have finally noticed the instruction and read it. I have already known that the rotating of sutras is the same like reading them all at once. What I did not know was that after reading them I am supposed to cheerfully follow the truthful, honest and righteous path of life. Well, I will not lie that this will be the hard one. But why not give it a try. After all, Kyoto is without any doubt the best place to do so!