Monday, June 13, 2011

The temple of o-jizo-sama and hydrangeas

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.

(To see more about our world, please click on the picture of My World on the sidebar.)


  1. the blooms are beautiful, and the red bibs are such an interesting tradition. i hope all of the parents' prayers were answered...

  2. Hi,Stardust.
    私も今日矢田寺に行ってきましたよ!確かに沢山のお寺で色々な花が咲いていますよね。それにしても、あの階段の多さ!もうギブアップしそうでした!私より年上の方々が楽しそうにお喋りをしながら、楽々階段を登っておられました!赤いエプロンでお地蔵さんの首が苦しそうに見えてしまって、写真を撮れませんでした。でもStardust さんのお地蔵さんはそのようには見えません。勢ぞろいして可愛いです。

  3. I would've thought "Oh, what a shame those flowers are not in full bloom yet!", but you said "somehow aroused gentle sensation of the coming of something nice". How positive and thoughtful!
    Funny but in the fifth picture, ojizo-sama seems to be looking at the hydrangea behind the tree.

  4. About time! I was thinking, maybe I have to go to Yada-dera myself and take my own pictures! Great!! Thanks very much, Stardust. Just in time for the next quiz...

  5. Beautiful post, Stardaust. I love hydrangeas with the variety of their colours and shapes! I love the place you show us here, and the tradition is so interesting.
    Have a beautiful afternoon:)

  6. The forest and stone path transports me magically into your beautiful world, stardust. I also love the images of the different hydrangea. I have some growing in my garden and am delighted each year when the blooms arrive. Red happens to be one of my favorite colors so it is interesting to learn that it is said to ward off evil spirits. In these times of conflict and earthquakes, we need all the help we can get. Thanks as always for sharing perspectives from your fascinating corner of the globe.

  7. Marvelous captures and such beautiful flowers! I love the red color and its meaning in Japan! Your posts are always so colorful and informative, stardust! Thanks you for sharing with us! Hope you have a wonderful week!


  8. What gorgeous flowers. I love those o-jizo-sama too.

  9. What a beautiful place!
    It looks as though there is a timeless quality in this garden.The hydrangeas must be quite spectacular when in full bloom.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Best wishes,

  10. This is a beautiful post! I enjoy learning about the many Japanese customs. The hydrangeas are beautiful.

  11. What beautiful flowers and that stone path is wonderful.

  12. 息子たちが郡山の学校に通っていた頃、矢田寺を訪ね、遠くに奈良盆地を望んだのを思い出しました。紫陽花は雨が少なくて闌てくると見ているのが可愛そう。今から満開くらいがいいかも知れませんね。

  13. thankyou for sharing your world with us, it is an honour to be invited to see the temple sites

  14. Hello, man!

    Interesting post, I did not know about this temple.
    Always find interesting things that we enjoy.
    Beautiful and productive week!

  15. It certainly is a verdant and lush place...I would love to spend a few hours strolling through these beautiful gardens.

    I'm just curious about o-jizo-sama as to why he didn't save people from the earthquake and tsunami before it happened...

    When there is a tragedy in this country, like a tornado, survivors often speak of how God saved them. I always wonder why God would save them and not others and why he didn't shut down the tornado before it killed people and tore lives inside out...

    Thanks for your very nice comments on our blogs. We're glad you find them interesting and thank you for following Paree!

  16. Jacob, thank you for your comment. It’s natural to have that question. O-jizo-sama can’t always prevent things from happening. He is the one who achieved enlightenment and is ready to enter Pure Land of Buddha but he decided to stay in this world to help those who are suffering until all are saved.

    To think about it from my background, Shintoism (nature worship) and Buddhism (no god as a creator but individual spiritual journey), things happen in spite of our faith or prayers and our way of life is to try to find insight into the true nature of life and attain peace of mind even amidst sufferings, under the guidance and protection of Buddha, Bosatsu including o-jizo-sama, or gods in nature. They guide us and protect our souls from getting corrupted by evil spirits.

    I’m not the one who can explain things regarding religion. I myself is in search of the way to attain peace of mind. But your question is worth thinking about. Thank you.

  17. Enchanting the temple amidst beautiful gardens with beautiful hydrangeas. Beautiful photos. Greetings

  18. My beloved friend
    This post moved me too!
    The God protects children, and the red outfit ...
    I wish to protect children around the world.
    Your pictures are beautiful, and admired the wide array of hydrangeas!
    I would also like to express my respect and my admiration for the Japanese people, I am happy, because I saw the photos on the Internet of Foukosima.
    Nothing commemorates the destruction, is great now.
    Also, admire the retired engineer who went to nuclear power plants!
    I bow to the Japanese people.
    May God protect you always. You're wonderful people!
    Many greetings with much love and kisses

  19. I have never seen so many varieties of hydrangeas. I have a bush in front of my house, but it will not bloom until some time in August. These photographs bring such a sense of peace.

  20. Such beautiful photos amd such a lovely place. The hydrangeas reminds me so much of my trip to Japanese last year. I love the temples and their beautiful gardens. So lush and green. Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos.


  21. What a beautiful post! I love the stone pathway and the sight of so many plants! Here we grow them in pots! I have never seen such luxuriant growth before. Also loved the significance of the flowers as well of o-jizo-sama.

  22. Thank you for a wonderful excursion to such an interesting and nice place!

  23. oh my..such wonderful posts, and shots u have. truly enjoyed. do follow me on

  24. What a wonderful place, very beautiful photos and a gret post. :)

  25. Three months have passed since your country's tragedy, and the hydrangeas' blooming seems to signal a healing and rebirth. I think your prayer to jizo-sama is a fitting one. I like to think of climbing those staircases and seeing the peaceful beauty all around.

  26. I have been to Yata dera once when the foreign visitor came to visit our university (I lived in Nara more than a decade ago). It was in winter and I am glad to see hydrangeas in your fantastic photos.
    I am sure ojizo sama listened to your prayers sincerely.
    Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful day.

  27. I can't even imagine a 1,000 hydrangeas in bloom--what a glorious sight that would be! Such lovely gardens in Japan--what a wonderful place to find peace and solace. Glad you learned "zesty, panache, and pizazz"! Have a lovely day. Mickie :)

  28. this is just a wonderful entry!!!

    hydrangeas are one of my favorites, these gardens are magnificant!!

    i felt like i was walking along with you!!!

  29. Some more fascinating and unusual things to learn about hydrangeas! I have only just started to realise that they are an important flower in Japan. I was also interested to learn about o-jizo-sama. Thank you!

  30. What a beautiful and peace providing post... The colors have such a soothing effect on the soul, the place is really great...
    Loved every pic, the hydrangeas are lovely...
    Have a good day:)

  31. Really beautiful, stardust! I once visited this temple a long time ago when I was a student. It was in autumn so no hydrangeas there. The hydrangea is one of my favorite flowers. Ojizosama's small red aprons(?) look fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  32. Thank you for visiting and leaving a message; this allowed me to visit your blog...which is so colourful and full of interesting things! I read about what you like in a variety of fields and discovered we share lots of interests! Like flowers and temples, gardens and statuar and classical music!!
    Last year we visited Kamogawa Iris Nursery Garden (Shizuoka prefecture), famous for its iris, but also for the experiments in creating new hybrids of hydrangeas.
    I love your photos and your explanations with a poetic touch. We have lots of hydrangeas in our neighbourhood, here in Kanagawa prefecture (halfway between Tokyo and Yokohama), so my husband and I go on photographic expeditions quite often, because it rains a lot, but also because the flowers take time to get their colours.
    Sometime in 1983, the year of my arrival in Japan, I went on Rokko-san and stayed until it got dark to admire the view of the lit up city below. And I also remember I played with some rabbits and some goats.....but nothing more. IT's a long time ago....

  33. Hello, Stardust!
    Beautiful photos of a magnificent flower. I love hydrangeas. As usual, all your photos are just stunning!
    This is a beautiful and interesting post!

  34. Thank you, everyone, for your time and comment. Hydrangeas make our rainy days brighter as they bloom one after another and their lifespan is relatively long. I have an impression that this year’s hydrangeas flower size is smaller and their blooming time is later than usual. I’m amazed they are pretty strong against pests despite high humidity when germs and bacteria get active. I’m getting along with apricot rains wishing no disaster caused by torrential rains.


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