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Once Upon a Time in the East at Rokusho Shrine

Lord Buddha is everywhere but—
alas! — invisible
In the silent dawn
I see him faintly in a dream.
~Ryōjin Hishō

The eternal Buddha

The idea expressed in the verse is taken from the Lotus Sūtra: The Buddha is eternal and unchanging, but one cannot see him. To believers in the Heian period, the idea that he might reveal his form in a dream after a night of intense prayer wouldn’t have been unusual at all.

Ryōjin Hishō was a collection of verses and songs edited by former Emperor Go-Shirakawa. In addition to publishing books of songs, he played a role in the Genpei War, made famous in Heike Monogatari, The Tale of the Heike.

Daily Photo: Once Upon a Time in the East

The gate (rōmen) to Rokusho Shrine is a very decorative and nice looking example of the gongen style.

A gongen was believed to be the manifestation of an Indian buddha in the form of a local kami. This was a very interesting time period1 in Japanese history when Shinto essentially was absorbed by and became a part of Buddhism.

Rokusho Shrine was the Tokugawa family shrine and is where Tokugawa Ieyasu2, then Matsudaira Takechiyo, was consecrated as a baby. It took it’s current form when the 3rd Shogun, Iemitsu, was visiting Okazaki and decided to fix it up.

Because of its connection to the Tokugawa family, it was a relatively important shrine. Up until the Meiji Restoration, only daimyo with 50,000 or more koku of rice3 were allowed to climb the stone steps leading to the rōmon and ultimately the shrine.

I haven’t posted a photo using textures for a while, so I decided to add a few to today’s photo. I have gotten a number of requests to make a tutorial on how to do this. It’s not hard. One of these days I’ll get around to making a video, but for the moment just search YouTube and you’ll find a how to video easily enough.

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  1. Shinbutsu-shūgō, literally “syncretism of kami and buddhas”. more→ 

  2. The Tokugawa family was kind of a big deal 

  3. A koku of rice was originally defined as the amount it took to feed one person for one year. Roughly 278.3 litres. 

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