Kongosen-ji Temple (Koriyama City), better known as Yata-dera Temple, was founded in 673. The temple became a center of jizo-bosatsu worship since Heian period (794-1192). We call jizo-bosatsu o-jizo-sama with respect and affection. Climbing up a long staircase, I found o-jizo-sama standing quietly.
Many temple features special flowers: at Yata-dera it is hydrangeas. Hydrangea's many petals of variety of colours reflect not only the transience of life but also o-jizo-sama appearing in many different figures to save people.
I think I went there a week earlier for full blooming. Most of flowers were immature in white with yellowish green tinge, which somehow aroused gentle sensation of the coming of something nice in me.
At first flower color mingles with surrounding lush green.
The color of flowers changes from pale color to deep color.
The grounds of the temple is apt for hydrangeas which thrive in shady, cool places. During the season, the area is covered with about 10000 plants of 60 different varieties of hydrangeas. Visitors stroll up and down surrounded by white, pink, mauve, blue or indigo hydrangeas. In the photo, many hydrangeas are still smaller balls in greenish white among verdant green.
As you might know, Siebold (1796-1866) introduced to Europe 14 varieties of hydrangeas, Gaku-hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) which is native to Japan, in his Flora Japonica.
Hydrangea macrophylla native to Japan
This temple is dedicated to 延命地蔵菩薩 (Enmei Jizo-bosatsu). O-jizo-sama's traditional role is to save people from the torments of living hell. In modern Japan, o-jizo-sama is worshiped especially as a guardian of children including the unborn and travellers. Why does o-jizo-sama wear red cap and baby bib? As far as I know, because parents have offered either to ask him to protect a child or to thank him for saving a child, and red color is believed to ward off evil spirit since ancient times. (Color Red in Japanese Mythology)
Three months have passed since that devastating earthquake and tsunami. I prayed o-jizo-sama to save the souls of the stricken from all the sufferings. I do hope as hydrangeas bloom more and more changing their colors, o-jizo-sama changes his figure to save people with his full force by all means.
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