While I was taking a walk in Shinjuku 2 cho-me after lunch, I found a nice place to stay and be calm. Shinjuku 2 cho-me is well known as an area of gay bars. I usually hear people at those bars still singing karaoke or sitting on the street drunk and talking in the early morning while I’m on my way to work.
So, I couldn’t believe that there is such a quiet place in the middle of this area.
The name of the temple is Taisoji, which was built by a monk named Taiso in 1596.
Taiso gained the prestige of the public and Naito (who owned Shinjuku Gyoen) , and organized funerals around there. Its root is Jodo Shu.
I saw a huge Buddha statue at the entrance. His greeting with peaceful face naturally brought me into the temple.
Once I entered the ground, two temples standing opposite each other took my eyes.
In Obon season in Summer, the door opens and you can see Emma Daio and Datsue ba.
Both are scary looking and you will see after you die.
Enma is the chief of Hell. He judges your sins. He has huge pincers for pulling out liar ‘s tongue. When I told a lie, my mother used to say “Enma will pull out your tongue!!!”
And Datsue ba is an old woman who takes your clothes off on the river that you pass to go to hell. The weight of your clothes is as heavy as your sin before you die.
She is like the woman in “Rashomon” written by Ryunosuke Akutagawa.
And I saw the Hyakudo Ishi. Hyakudo, means one hundred times, and Ishi means stone.
This stone is used when you have a wish. You walk to the temple to pray and back to this stone for 100 times. It is not easy to do, I guess… And I’ve heard if your wish comes true, you even need to do this for 1000 times in return!
There are so many kinds of Hyakudo Ishi in Japan, and this stone looks kind of simple in shape compared with other ones.
And there were two little shrines at the corners of the grounds.
One was Inari having two little foxes.
And the other one was pretty weird. The statue in the shrine seemed to be covered by snow… But, it was April and it can’t be the snow is still left. And when I touched it, I realized it was not cold, and actually it was a big pile of salt!!! I saw the name of this Shiokake Jizo (Putting salt statue).
People take a little salt when they have wishes, and if it comes true, they put more salt on this statue in return. So,
I guess this statue made so many wishes true. I hardly saw the face of the statue.
By the way, Christianity was brought to Japan by Francisco de Xavier in 1549, and it was spread all over Japan. But the Shogun was afraid of the power of foreign religion and forbid to be Christian. There were so many cruel histories about this issue, and I really can’t explain all of them here. So, if you are interested in it, I recommend you to read “Silence” written by Shusaku Endo. The book is actually going to be a movie by Martin Scorsese soon, and it is might be good to see the movie too.
The reason why I brought the issue of Christianity up is because I saw this lantern in the back of the grounds.
Some Christians who were still Christian in secret were called Kakure Kirishitan (Hidden Christians) . They made this lantern, and used it as it resembles a cross.
You can see a little Maria on the bottom. I thought it was interesting to see this in the grounds of the temple.